Undergraduate Coursework and Performance
Doctors of optometry receive undergraduate education in order to be admitted into an accredited college of optometry, which requires a four-year undergraduate degree. The majority of students who apply to optometry school complete their Bachelors Degree in a science related subject. Although undergraduate courses required by schools of optometry vary from school to school, the basic requirements are similar to those required by colleges for other health care professionals. These curricula include courses related to biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Successful applicants to optometry schools also have a strong cumulative grade point average (GPA). The average GPA for the accepted applicant is between approximatel 3.5 and 3.8/4.0.
Following undergraduate studies, students begin a four year focused education in a college of optometry. There are 23 accredited colleges of optometry in North America, and most are affiliated with large universities. While Wisconsin does not have a college of optometry, the majority of licensed doctors in our state are graduates of the Illinois College of Optometry.
Graduates from optometry school are awarded a Doctor of Optometry degree (O.D.). The OD degree program includes classroom and clinical training in geometric, physical, physiological and ophthalmic optics; ocular anatomy, ocular disease, ocular myotology, ocular pharmacology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the visual system; color, form, space, movement and vision perception; design and modification of the visual environment; and vision performance and screening.
Since optometrists are members of the primary health care team, optometric education also includes a thorough study of human anatomy, pharmacology, general pathology, sensory and perceptual psychology; biochemistry, statistics and epidemiology; as well as many hours on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of health and disease of the human eye.
After graduation from an accredited school or college of optometry, optometrists must successfully complete a rigorous three-part national board examination and, in Wisconsin, a jurisprudence exam to become licensed to practice.
Following graduation from an accredited college of optometry, doctors of optometry may choose to embark on a number of residency or externship programs offered across the country and abroad. These programs provide additional education, training and experience for specialized areas of practice in optometry.
Education Required for Relicensure
Doctors of optometry in Wisconsin are required to attend 30 hours of continuing education every two years in order to maintain their license to practice. The education attended must be approved either by the Wisconsin Optometry Examining Board (OEB) or by the Council on Optometric Practicioner Education (COPE). Each doctor must take a minimum of seven hours in education approved for glaucoma credit and can take up to six hours total in the following categories: Contact Lens, Low Vision, Functional Vision/Pediatric Vision, General Optometry, Practice Management and Ethical/Jurisprudence. Doctors may also take up to six hours of education by alternative delivery methods including internet, correspondence courses, and magazine courses, provided they are approved by either the OEB or COPE. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) audits approximately 10 percent of licenses each education cycle to ensure they have taken the required education.