In recent years, the Army, Navy and Air Force have had difficulty maintaining adequate numbers of optometrists to provide vision care. To investigate one aspect of this staffing problem, reasons for leaving active duty and for staying were assessed by mailing 1096 surveys to both active duty optometrists and optometrists who left active duty. Descriptive analyses of the results suggest that three basic reasons induce optometrists to leave military service - pay, promotion opportunity and bureaucracy. Other reasons which may be contributory are control over assignments and stature of optometry in the military. Retirement benefits, control over assignments, job security, and location of current assignment appear to be inducements to remain. Discriminant analysis was also performed to determine which of the leave/stay variables distinguished leavers from stayers. Pay, opportunity to practice as desired, amount civilian optometrists earn, number of supporting staff, and frequency of moves contributed most to the classification of respondents as leavers or stayers. Other variables assessed of the active duty and separated respondents included satisfaction, intention, commitment, communication, integration, and opportunity. Results of the study suggest that pay and promotion opportunity must be addressed by the military services in order to increase retention of optometrists on active duty.
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