Majority of optometry students prefer to enter private practice ownership; yet, study finds only 15 percent of new optometry professionals become private practice owners in first year

Rancho Cordova, Calif., January 17, 2012 – In a longitudinal study conducted to measure 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 fifteen percent of respondents became an Independent Eye Care 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.
“My initial goal is to buy into or buy out a practice around Louisville, KY within my first couple of years of practice,” said Justin Coleman, president of Nova’s Optometric Practice Management Association (NOPMA) and a Nova Southeastern University optometry student. “Most students, including myself, are going to graduate with substantial debt and only a couple business classes under the belt, making business ownership appear to be a daunting task. Thankfully, there are resources available, such as VSP’s and Essilor of America’s Vision Loans and scholarship programs, which can help me start my practice and provide the support to make it grow.”
“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.”
For more information on the scholarships and Vision Loans Program provided by VSP, Essilor of America and Vision One Credit Loans, please visit
About VSP Global
VSP GlobalSM includes VSP Vision Care, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the United States with 57 million members; Marchon® Eyewear Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers, designers and distributors of quality fashion and technologically-advanced eyewear and sunwear; Eyefinity®/Officemate® which offer innovative solutions and the premier management software and technology to improve overall practice management and patient experience; VSP Optics Group, industry leaders in new technologies, production processes, service and logistics.  

To date, through VSP community outreach programs such as VSP Mobile Eyes® and Sight for Students®, and through relationships including those with the American Red Cross and Prevent Blindness America, VSP has invested more than $142 million in free eyecare and eyewear for close to 745,000 adults and children in need throughout the United States.





Pat McNeil