VSP Survey Finds Optometry Students Face Financing Hurdles When Pursuing Goal of Private Practice

Vision Monday shares highlights of a new study by VSP that underscores the financial challenges many optometry students run into when trying to enter private practice:

In a newly released study of career patterns among new optometry school graduates, VSP Vision Care surveyed optometry students during their third year in school along with their first year in practice, and discovered that 72 percent of respondents during their third year in school preferred to start their careers through private practice ownership, but only 15 percent of respondents became an independent eyecare professional practice owner in their first year of practice. 
Additional findings of the study show that: 

• 84 percent of third-year optometry students surveyed expect to own a private practice in the next five years. 
• During that same group’s first year in practice, 58 percent of respondents expect to own a private practice in the next five years. 
• 85 percent of first-year optometrists surveyed earn $99,999 or less 
• 76 percent of that same group carry $100,000 or more in debt 

As part of its commitment to supporting the continued success of private practice optometry, VSP Vision Care has programs available to help optometry students and optometry professionals enter private practice. Together VSP Vision Care and Essilor of America have distributed more than $54 million through the Vision Loans Program since its launch in 2003. The loans provide optometrists financing for first-time practice purchases, partnership buy-ins and refinance options. 

Since 2000, VSP has invested more than $1 million in financial awards to support nearly 200 optometry students interested in entering private practice. During the 2010-11 academic year, scholarships totaling $136,000 were provided by VSP to fourth-year optometry students across the country and Puerto Rico. 

“As the pressures of entering private practice and competition from alternative eyecare delivery channels grows so does our commitment to finding new and innovative approaches to keeping private practice strong for generations to come,” said Jim McGrann, president of VSP Vision Care. “We look forward to sharing some of those ideas in 2012.” 

Additional information about the scholarships and Vision Loans Program provided by VSP, Essilor of America and Vision One Credit Loans is available at www.vspglobal.com.

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