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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ryan Corte

Should You Practice Optometry in North Carolina? | Pros and Cons of North Carolina Optometry

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

Should you practice optometry in the state of North Carolina?

In this video, I share with you the pros and cons of being an optometrist in the state of North Carolina as well as share my personal experience practicing here for the past eight years.

How I ended up practicing optometry in North Carolina

Growing up, I was born and raised in Metro Detroit Michigan, and had the opportunity to explore North Carolina during my childhood when we went to visit family in South Carolina. We frequently met in fun spots throughout North Carolina, which is probably why I fell in love with the state at a young age. After hearing how strong of a state North Carolina is for optometry, I liked it even more.

After residency, I had the opportunity to work part-time at two awesome private practices in the Charlotte, NC area. During this time, I learned a ton about patient care, practice management, and the patient experience.

A few years later, I had the opportunity to partner with my current business partner, Dr. Rachael Wruble. We opened up Northlake Eye in 2017 and haven't looked back.

With this in mind, I want to share with you some of the pros and cons of practicing optometry in the state of North Carolina.

Pro 1 - North Carolina is a lovely state to live and raise a family

I'm a family man. I now have two kids and even before I moved here I knew that I wanted to have a family. Fortunately, I met the love of my life a year after moving here and we both agree NC is a fantastic place to live and raise a family.

North Carolina is a unique state that provides you with the opportunity to live in the city, suburbs, or the country. Plus, you have access to the mountains, the beach, and numerous small towns with classic southern charm.

Also, the opportunity here for optometrists has never been greater. In fact, people are moving here from all across the country. The secret's out - North Carolina is a great place to live AND be a practicing optometrist.

Pro 2 - The North Carolina Optometric Society is very active and has strong leadership

When it comes to organized optometry, the North Carolina Optometric Society (NCOS) is very a strong state association. It has great leadership and provided me with the opportunity as a student and resident to attend the Fall and Spring congress for free.

Honestly, I really felt like NCOS members welcomed me with open arms and took the time to get to know me on a deeper level. The ODs that live here are really involved and truly care about the state, the profession, and their patients.

As a result, upon moving here, you'll have the opportunity to really make an impact on the NCOS and North Carolina optometry.

Pro 3 - Optometrists are in high demand in North Carolina

What you may have noticed about other states across the country is there are a lot of ODs. The supply is often higher than the demand and competition is high.

Honestly, that's really not the case for the state of North Carolina. Yes, certain areas of the state have more ODs than others. However, in the vast majority of cases, we have a shortage of optometrists across the state.

Upon moving here, you can be an associate at a private practice, sublease practice, or corporate practice and have a high-income potential. Plus, you'll also have opportunities to buy into a practice, open cold, work for ophthalmology, or serve the US military.

Honestly, there is a ton of opportunity for optometrists in the state of North Carolina. In fact, I get emails weekly about new openings that are available. As a result, you have the opportunity to really feel out what you like vs what you don't like and do so in a great state.

Pro 4 - North Carolina optometrists have a fantastic scope of practice

North Carolina optometrists have a pretty fantastic scope of practice and it's something that they're continuing to work on overtime. According to NCOS, NC ODs can do the following:

  • Prescribe topical and oral medications to treat allergies, infections, and inflammation.

  • Diagnose, treat, and manage glaucoma with the use of topical and oral medications.

  • Prescribe oral steroids.

  • Prescribe Schedule II, III, IV, and V drugs.

  • Order imaging such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, echocardiograms, and temporal artery ultrasonography.

  • Deliver injectable treatments for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of eye diseases and adnexa (treatment of chalazia, peri-ocular injections, foreign body removal, and punctual plugs).

  • Perform fluorescein angiography injections (upon completion of the credentialing curriculum and certification from the North Carolina State Board of Examiners in Optometry).

Con 1 - North Carolina has a tough state optometry board examination

The North Carolina State Board of Optometry Examination has a reputation for being very challenging. Honestly, it's not the easiest board to prepare for. However, when you take the time to prepare appropriately, you'll pass with flying colors.

  • Yes, they are timed, oral case reports.

  • Yes, they used to require you to redo certain clinical skills as part of the examination (but they no longer do).

  • Yes, they take time and energy to prepare for on top of all the exams you took during optometry school.

With that being said, I genuinely feel new graduate ODs, residency-trained ODs, and even ODs that have been out for a while can pass this exam without any problems. Plus, if for some reason you don't pass, take it again. Eventually, you will.

Con 2 - North Carolina optometrists need 25 hours of continuing education a year to maintain their license

The yearly CE requirement to maintain your optometry licensure in the state of North Carolina is 25 hours and at least 10 of the hours must be certified by the state.

Personally, I'm an advocate of lifelong learning and enjoy listening to continuing education to further my ability to provide patient care at a high level. However, I'd be lying to you if I haven't had years where I've waited a little too long and needed 10 to 15 hours at the end of the year.

Unfortunately, you can't get certified credits online or (easily) in the blink of an eye. Personally, I recommend trying to plan accordingly by scheduling CE hours earlier in the year so you don't run into this problem.

Con 3 - Ophthalmic lasers and the removal of lumps and bumps are not a part of North Carolina optometry's scope of practice

If you're somebody who is interested in lasers (LPI, SLT, ALT, and YAG) or removing lumps and bumps, North Carolina currently does not have this in its scope of practice. Certain states across the country do and we've seen more and more states expanding their scopes of overtime.

As a result, I fully anticipate North Carolina will follow suit one day. However, at this point in time, no lasers or lumps and bumps.

Final thoughts on North Carolina Optometry

In the end, I'm excited to help you on your North Carolina optometric journey!

Personally, I've been very happy here and have had the opportunity to meet, partner with, and build lifelong friendships with a lot of fantastic optometrists.

People from all over the country are moving here because it's a great place to live. As an NC OD, I strongly recommend considering North Carolina as a state to practice!

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