CHICAGO – The Illinois College of Optometry, the nation’s oldest and largest optometry school, announced today a revitalized practice management curriculum in response to the real world needs of the profession. Beginning this fall, the entering class of future optometrists will experience enhanced programming to best prepare students for the business side of optometry.
Practice management fundamentals have always been a part of the ICO curriculum, but have historically been a small component of the overall required hours, as practice management concepts are not addressed on National Board exams. The new programming comes as a direct result of feedback from practicing alumni and student exit surveys.
“The goal of the new and improved curriculum is to marry ICO’s iconic clinical experience with the business side of optometry to benefit all students no matter what their desired mode of practice will be,” said ICO president Arol Augsburger, OD.
Leading up to this initiative, students already had access to 50 hours of related practice management coursework, plus co-curricular activities such as ICO’s exclusive Practice Opportunities Symposium. The new enhancements add workshops, group activities, and online assignments that increase practice management material by 60 percent. Enterprising students can also opt in to an elective track containing an additional 100 hours of content. The curriculum enhancements will be phased in over four years, fully exploring the ethical, legal, administrative, financial, and clinical issues surrounding practice management.
“While ICO has long been the optometric leader in clinical and didactic education, this expansive practice management curriculum will put us at the forefront in preparing new graduates to succeed in the business aspects of optometry,” said project co-lead Dr. Eric Baas.
The program enhancements were developed as ICO’s Quality Initiative Project for the Higher Learning Commission. They were cultivated over several years by a dedicated team of ICO faculty and staff. Drs. Eric Baas and Geoffrey Goodfellow, both graduates of ICO, led this group as they studied curricula at other institutions, best practices across healthcare disciplines, current educational materials and teaching resources, and insight from private practitioners. The resulting robust coursework will best prepare ICO graduates to provide patients with high quality, accessible, and cost-effective vision care.
ICO began accepting applications for its Class of 2021 on July 1, 2016.