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Transitions and Black EyeCare Perspective Continue HBCU Light Intelligent Tour Aimed at Increasing Diversity

students attend transitions tour event designed to increase diversityTransitions, along with its Diversity Advisory Board, has partnered with Black EyeCare Perspective for a HBCU Light Intelligent Tour, which is continuing in 2023. To assist in increasing the admittance of Black and African American students into accredited optometry programs and ultimately increasing the amount of practicing diverse optometrists, the HBCU Light Intelligent Tour visited three Historically Black Colleges and Universities in November 2022. Demonstrating the effectiveness of the tour in sparking diverse students’ interest in joining the field of optometry, Transitions and Black EyeCare Perspective are now expanding it to include virtual events in the Spring and Summer with plans to visit several HBCUs on-campus in the Fall.

2022 tour stops included North Carolina Central University (NCCU), Tennessee State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Fostering continuous engagement and educational support, students will receive ongoing communications via an e-newsletter and are invited to attend the tour’s new virtual events. A video recapping the 2022 HBCU Light Intelligent Tour at NCCU will also be released on Transitions’ LinkedIn and Facebook account pages.

UNDER-REPRESENTATION

Currently, 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, or nearly 46 million people, identify themselves as Black or African American[i]—yet this demographic represents less than two percent of practicing optometrists[ii] and only four percent of students enrolled in optometry school[iii].

 “This tour is just one of the initiatives the Transitions Diversity Advisory Board has undertaken to recruit multicultural talent into the eyecare profession,” says Arlene Segovia, senior marketing manager, trade communications, Transitions. “Increasing diversity in the eyecare industry will ensure future optometrists can effectively advocate for multicultural patient needs and create a sustainable pipeline of multicultural talent.”

Dr. Glover and Dr. Johnson of Black EyeCare Perspective speak to the group.

This initiative was led by Darryl Glover, OD, co-founder of Black EyeCare Perspective, and Essence Johnson, OD, executive director of Black EyeCare Perspective. Leadership team members Dr. Tiffany Humes, business transformation manager, and Dr. Jacobi Cleaver, chief program officer, were also part of the HBCU Light Intelligent Tour. While on campus, Black EyeCare Perspective and Transitions team members presented to students on the profession of optometry, how to join the Black EyeCare Perspective Pre-Optometry Club and the benefits of Transitions® lenses. Additionally, they discussed the benefits of receiving annual comprehensive eye exams to eye and overall health. Students were also invited to meet with Black EyeCare Perspective and Transitions team members one-on-one, giving them the opportunity to connect with practicing Black optometrists.

“IMAGINE YOURSELVES HERE”

“As 40 percent of optometrists who identify as Black or African American graduate from historically black colleges and universities[iv], the HBCU Light Intelligent Tour aims to encourage students in joining the field of optometry,” said Dr. Glover. “We also hope that our representation on campus inspires students to imagine themselves in our field as they see first-hand successful Black optometrists who are striving to change the world.”

In addition to student outreach, Transitions and Black EyeCare Perspective hope to create lasting partnerships with university presidents, faculty and pre-health advisors to provide HBCUs with continued support to foster student interest in optometry including providing them with preparation resources for the Optometry Admission Test.

“As I listened to Dr. Glover and Dr. Johnson present, I looked around the room and saw my students’ eyes light up,” said Dr. Roderick Heath, former director, Men’s Achievement Center and African American Male Initiative, NCCU. “I think many of my students may have found a new career path and that makes me smile inside.”

Transitions provides its industry partners with the tools and education they need to better serve and improve communication with their culturally diverse patients. Resources are available free-of-charge to eyecare professionals at TransitionsPRO.com/Multicultural. Those interested in being involved with the Transitions Diversity Advisory Board can contact cservice@transitions.com for more information.

Listen to a two-part podcast with a WO panel. Part 1 and Part 2

[i] United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST120221

[ii] American Optometric Association.  https://www.aoa.org/news/inside-optometry/aoa-news/diversity-optometrys-reflection?sso=y

[iii] Annual Student Data Report. (2022). https://optometriceducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/2021-22-Annual-Student-Data-Report.pdf

[iv] Black Eyecare Perspective IMPACT HBCU.  https://www.optometrystudents.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IMPACT-HBCU-INFO-SHEET-2.pdf

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