238 optometrists representing the graduating classes of 1991, 1996, and 1998 from Pacific University College of Optometry were surveyed to determine potential barriers to establishing their ideal practice. 96 optometrists (40%) responded to the survey, representing 14 different modes of practice. Overall, the number one barrier for Pacific graduates was debt load with 92% of optometrists agreeing. Other significant barriers were start up costs, (87% agreeing), low initial salary (86%), lack of savings (88%), and lack of business education (87%). Some interesting barrier trends also evolved from this survey. Notably, lack of business education has become less of a barrier when comparing responses from 1991, 1996, and 1998. Competition in the optometric/ophthalmologic market had become a greater barrier for 1998 graduates compared to graduates of 1996, and 1991. Qualifying for insurance plans and finding a suitable practice location have also become emerging barriers for 1998 graduates as compared to graduates from 1991 and 1996. The survey also inquired about annual income, future prospects for the field of optometry, what keeps optometrists enthusiastic about the profession and the possibility of doing it all over again.
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