Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions announced an intent to develop a new College of Optometry with Dr. Adam Hickenbotham, OD, MPH, PhD, as the founding dean.
As dean, Hickenbotham will oversee the development of the curriculum, the hiring of faculty and staff, and guide the new college through the accreditation process in preparation for an anticipated opening in 2023.
The College of Optometry is seeking accreditation through the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, requiring a multistage process before a new school can begin to recruit or enroll students, a press release stated.
Dr. Richard P. Nielsen, founding president and CEO of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, said in a prepared statement:
We are pleased Dr. Hickenbotham, one of the leading experts and groundbreakers in optometry, will lead our efforts in starting our College of Optometry. The College of Optometry will offer the traditional training that optometrists have received in the past, but will also be designed to prepare physician-level providers of optometry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for optometrists will grow an estimated 30% during the next 10 years.
“Due to an aging U.S. population, we must prepare for a potential shortage of optometric physicians during the next few decades,” said Hickenbotham in a news release. “The Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions’ College of Optometry will help alleviate this impending shortage by preparing, teaching, and graduating new optometrists to meet the demand for primary eye care in the fastest-growing region of the country which is currently without an optometrIc training institution.”