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    A tale of two state boards

    The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

    Charles Dickens’s words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,”

    could also describe my first year out of optometry school.

    I was finally a Doctor of Optometry, but I was not out of the woods yet.

    Every summer I think about the most recent brigade of freshly minted ODs who have survived four years of optometric boot camp and a challenging gauntlet of National Board Exams. I picture students charging forth across the “no-man’s land” of changing healthcare landscape, lugging their backpacks full of six-figure student debt.

    As if that frontal assault was not treacherous enough, students are also required to serve as cannon fodder for state board examiners.

    Previously from Dr. Brown: Death of the pressure patch has been slightly exaggerated

    My “tale of two state boards” is dedicated to these young comrades in arms.

    Seeking state licenses

    That first summer I settled into my residency and easily obtained a license in State A where I was located. A simple written test covering a few clinical topics and state laws was all it took.

    I then decided to seek a license in nearby State B to improve my post-residency job prospects.  It had a good therapeutics law and plenty of opportunities for young ODs—or so I heard.

    State B’s test included a face-to-face interview with board members. Apparently, it was designed to ascertain the character and intentions of a candidate and protect the good citizens of their state from any optometric riff-raff.

    When I entered the room, I looked up and saw a group of mostly middle-aged males sitting on a dais. There was a single folding chair in front of the stage that was apparently the “hot seat.”

    I assumed the position and peered up at the line of men who, for that time and place, were essentially a pantheon of gods. In the middle sat a large good ol’ boy who I took to be Zeus.

    They asked me a lot of “clinical” questions like:

    Where are you from?

    What are you doing?

    Why are you here?

    I explained my educational bona fides, that I was doing a residency in ocular disease in a nearby state, and that I would like to pursue opportunities in their state during that year.

    Related: Students can make a difference with advocacy


    Then Zeus said, “Ya mean to tell me ya don’t already have a private practice lined up? That ya really don’t know whatcha’ll be doin’?”

    “No, sir,” I said.

    He said, “And what about this place where ya are now? Ain’t that one of them thar chains?”

    A younger board member leaned Zeus’s way and explained to him that, no, it was a comanagement center, and the name was the corporate brand of the company that owned the practice.

    Zeus scowled, seemingly unconvinced.

    I left the interrogation chamber a little shaken. I worried aloud to my wife that the fix might be in.

    I needed to be at my best for the practical exam the next day, so I tried to shake it off and think positive thoughts.

    Michael Brown, OD, MHS-CL, FAAO
    Dr. Brown has practiced medical optometry in a comanagement center and with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in ...


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