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Is the high cost of an optometric education forcing graduates into commercial practice?

1 May 1997


1000 optometrists listed in the Blue Book of Optometrists were surveyed at random. A response rate of 44.5% was received, representing each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. The survey investigated student indebtedness and its relationship to practice modality. 9.67% of our respondents chose their initial modality because they needed to earn the most money possible. Of those, 50% chose commercial practice as their initial modality. 55% of the practitioners that initally chose commercial practice switched modes by the end of their second or third year of practice. For the 45% that did not leave commercial practice the majority were recent graduates and thus could not be followed over a ten year period. We tracked the initial modes of graduates between 1970 and 1994. It was found that there was an increase of commercial practitioners, a decrease in solo practitioners, while the number of employed optometrists in other modes remained relatively constant through time.


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