With nicknames like “Big Sky Country” and “The Treasure State,” Montana is known for its grassy plains, rolling hills, and farmlands on the eastern side and its breathtaking mountains, national parks, and renowned skiing on the western side. Although it is the fourth largest state, it is the eighth least populated state in the U.S. If you are looking for adventure, opportunity, and an economically vibrant state in which to practice, look no further than the state of Montana.
Currently, no optometry schools are located in the state of Montana, but it does have a strong medical influence in the town of Billings, where a Mayo Clinic resides. In the state of Montana, opportunities for optometrists to practice include private practice, commercial practice, Native American reservations scattered throughout the state, and Veterans Affairs.
Montana offers great opportunity for practicing optometry due to its small, business-friendly laws, absence of sales tax, and a wide scope of practice. To become a licensed optometrist in Montana, applicants must pass all NBEO board exams, including TMOD, and have verification of graduation from an optometry program recognized by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and accredited by the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry. While there is no additional verbal or written test to become licensed in Montana, the applicant must meet all qualifications to be TPA and DPA certified. Lastly, an optometrist must read and comply with the statutes laid out by the Montana State Board.
According to Montana state law, optometrists have the following guidelines under which he or she may practice:
- Provide optometric care and diagnosis relating to the visual system in order to detect the presence of abnormal conditions or functions that may be “diagnosed, corrected, remedied or relieved”
- Employ any optometric means to detect any abnormal conditions of the visual processing system that may have significance related to visual health and function including the use of topical drugs limited to: cycloplegics, mydriatics, topical anesthetics, dyes such as fluorescein, and miotics for emergency use only
- May apply or prescribe ophthalmic lenses, contact lenses, prisms, orthoptics, mechanical or physiological therapy, as well as, any prosthetic or therapeutic devices used to correct or relieve visual anomalies
- Can administer, dispense, and prescribe the oral analgesics codeine, propoxyphene, hydrocodone, and dihydrocodeine alone or in combination with non-scheduled or non-regulated drugs
- Can administer and dispense prescription drugs approved by the board of optometry for use in the ocular treatment of anterior segment diseases of the eye and adnexa as well as treat glaucoma
- Remove foreign bodies that are not intraocular
- Provide postoperative and/or follow-up care for any patient who has undergone any ocular surgical procedure after consultation with the surgeon and patient
According to Montana State Law, an optometrist may NOT:
- Perform surgery or laser surgery for any reason
- It is not explicitly stated in Montana law that optometrists are allowed to perform any type of injection
(further details can be found at www.mtrules.org)
While optometrists in Montana enjoy a fairly wide scope of practice, the scarcity of ophthalmologists and the ever-growing need for access to eye care have prompted talk of scope expansion in the future. The Montana Optometric Association (MOA) is playing an active and vibrant role in this area and in the advocacy for optometrists.
So, if you want to practice in a state with exciting adventure and practice opportunities, the state of Montana can afford you the resources to thrive as an optometrist and a small business owner. With Montana’s growing tourism, this up-and-coming area of the country is one to keep in mind for young adults and families. Regardless of your choice of practice, Montana is definitely a state you’ll want to visit and check off your bucket list.
To check out Scope of Practice articles about another state, click here!