AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP)

Launched in fall 2022, the mission of the AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP) is to fuel a passion for and create a foundational knowledge base to excel in the management of today’s independent practice of contemporary optometry. This center of excellence will help students and practitioners develop strong partnerships, optimize practice resources, create business strategy and utilize the fundamentals of professional practice advocacy.

AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP)

Center for Independent Practice

Welcome Home, Independent Doctors

The AOA has long been the voice of independent doctors and we want to help you succeed. Independent practice is thriving—whether you are practicing independently, want to learn more about it or want to find opportunities, the Center for Independent Practice (CIP) is your home.

This is your one-stop hub for resources to help advance your professional skills. Revisit often to find more information and tools to help you grow as the AOA fights for broader scope, recognition and opportunities for doctors of optometry.


The AOA Thanks Southern College of OptometryNortheastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry, The Ohio State University College of Optometry, University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry, and Western University College of Optometry for their visionary partnership and leadership in the CIP and independent practice of contemporary optometry.

The Southern College of Optometry and the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry have the highest rate of AOA membership among students who graduated from 2011-2021, and the five CIP partner schools have the highest rates of faculty membership in AOA among all schools and colleges of optometry.

Build Independent Practice at Optometry’s Meeting®

The AOA Center for Independent Practice held its 2023 Symposium at Optometry’s Meeting in Washington DC, featuring expert Tom Bowen, founder and CEO of Thrive Practice and Life Development. The 2023 Symposium was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision.

The AOA Center for Independent Practice held its 2024 Symposium in conjunction with AOA+ at Optometry’s Meeting in Nashville, with pop-ups featuring Bill Nolan, president, practice transitions for Williams Group; Bernie DeJesus, student loan consultant, GradFin team at Laurel Road; and Frank L. Vivians, Jr., assistant vice president, medical business development officer, Bank of America Practice Solutions. The 2024 Symposium was supported by Williams Group.

EyeLearn: Professional Development Hub

The AOA’s member-exclusive, centralized education portal, EyeLearn, offers an expanding online catalog of educational modules, webinars and resources to help advance clinical proficiencies, the practice of contemporary optometry and practice management for doctors of optometry, future doctors of optometry and paraoptometric staff. When accessing EyeLearn, members log in with the same username and password used to log in to the AOA website. There is a user guide offered for quick reference as well.

CIP webinars on Practice Matters are available for CE credit in EyeLearn for easy access for student and doctor members of AOA

Additional AOA EyeLearn courses can be found in the content search bar or through specific course catalogs. For example:

Independent Practice Resources

Corporate Transparency Act (CTA): Federal law requires optometry practices and other businesses with fewer than 20 employees and less than $5 million in receipts to report certain ownership information to the Department of the Treasury. The AOA is advocating for a broader exemption for legitimate health care practitioners.  The AOA CIP has developed resources and guidance for practices to comply with the law in 2024.


Coding & Billing

Federal law requires doctors of optometry and other physicians to use standardized codes in health care transactions. The AOA has important resources and guidance for practicing doctors, especially as state licenses expand to include more services and procedures.

Legal Tips

When starting, joining or expanding an optometry practice, doctors often need legal counsel to best protect their rights and interests. AOA can help doctors find legal assistance, and also provides information on hot topics.

Practice Success

The AOA Board of Trustees has prioritized practice success tools and resources.

AOAExcel ®

AOA member doctors, students and staff have access to tools and other benefits to thrive in independent practice through AOA Excel®. For example, with AOAExcel’s partners provide information and discounts for several types of insurance every doctor of optometry should have. AOAExcel also offers financial planning tips and resources.

CIP Committee

AOA Immediate Past President Robert C. Layman, O.D., chair
AOA Vice President Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D., vice chair
Southern College of Optometry President Lewis Reich, O.D., Ph.D.
Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry Dean Douglas Penisten, O.D., Ph.D.
The Ohio State University College of Optometry Associate Dean for Research Jeffrey Walline, O.D., Ph.D.
University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry Dean Renee Reeder, O.D.
Western University College of Optometry Founding Dean Elizabeth Hoppe, O.D., M.P.H., Dr.PH.
Tara DeRose, O.D.
Aaron McNulty, O.D.
Erick Henderson, O.D.
AOA CIP Executive Director Rodney Peele, J.D.

Related News

Takeaways from CMS’ proposed 2025 Physician Fee Schedule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released its proposed rule changes last week. The proposals recognize the value of vision care and the need for greater access to care for patients.

5 ways to center patient care

Respecting patients’ time and delivering care as efficiently as possible is critical. AOA member Mile Brujic, O.D., shares his patient-first approach.

AOA president highlights importance of eye exams for classroom success

Steven T. Reed, O.D., chatted with outlets across the country to emphasize the importance of back-to-school eye exams for children and their academic performance.