Are you planning on completing optometry school and practicing in New Jersey, AKA the Garden State? If so, here are some things you need to know!
As you may or may not know, optometry is a legislated profession. This means that optometrists are subject to state regulations, and each state holds their own set of rules and regulations. This is one of the main reasons why optometric state associations are so important. They not only look to defend the profession from outside attacks and potential harmful legislative efforts, they also can play an instrumental role in advancing the profession through advocacy.
In New Jersey, optometrists can:
- Prescribe oral medications, including Schedules III, IV, and V pain meds
- Prescribe Hydrocodone-combination medications (federally re-classified as Schedule II)
- Prescribe oral steroids
- Diagnose and treat glaucoma with topical and oral drugs
- Co-manage post-op care
- Perform procedures such as foreign body removal, dilation and irrigation, punctual occlusion, and eyelash epilation
- Perform injections for anaphylaxis
- Prescribe and dispense spectacles and contact lenses
- Provide and aid in care of ocular prosthetics
- Order laboratory tests required for the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of a disease or condition related to the human eye
- Prescribe or administer orthoptic therapy (vision therapy)
In New Jersey, optometrists cannot:
- Perform laser procedures, including YAG, LPI, SLT and ALT
- Perform injections except for anaphylaxis
- Minor surgical procedures to the eye and adnexa
The time to join is now! If you already know where you wish to practice after graduation, you should definitely join the association of your state and get involved with the activities happening in your chosen area. This will not only be a networking opportunity, but also a chance to familiarize yourself with the local system and proceedings and with potential issues of your future community.
The New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP) is the association of the state that works hard to expand the scope of practice for ODs in New Jersey. Visit the NJSOP website, where you can become a student member. NJSOP has quarterly continuing education meetings in different regions of the state and you are more than welcome to participate if you are in the area. In addition, NJSOP holds quarterly committee days where discussions are held on various topics ranging from new members and member benefits to third party/insurance topics. Information about these days and each committee can be found on the NJSOP website.
On a national level, make sure to be involved with the AOSA, which is a branch of the AOA for students. As you might know, the AOA is what brings all the state associations together and advocates for optometry nationally. Participating and being involved will give you great insight on what is going on with optometry in the country right now and will also help with connections for the future and give you a head start after graduation.
Another way to be involved is participating in the AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference (CAC), held yearly in Washington, D.C. This year, the CAC will be held April 17 to 19. Join your fellow students and optometrists an speak to legislators on Capitol Hill.
Why wait?! Let’s get involved and continue to improve this great profession that we chose!