BERKELEY /Ute Frey, UC Berkeley/- Optometry students at the University of California, Berkeley, are getting a leg up in basic business skills from Haas School of Business faculty as part of a special program to prepare future optometrists to manage a private practice.
Workshops in the new Executive Eye Care Business Program, a new collaboration between the Haas School and the School of Optometry, began aiming to sharpen the business skills of eye care professionals and better prepare them to run their own private practices after graduation.
“There is an often unrecognized need for management skills in non-corporate environments,” said Andy Shogan, associate dean for instruction at the Haas School. “Similar to our Management of Technology collaboration with the College of Engineering and our concurrent degree programs with the School of Public Health and School of Law (Boalt Hall), this is an example of Haas leveraging its expertise to help another discipline interested in elevating the business savvy of its practitioners.”
The response from the students has been outstanding. Over 90 percent of third-year optometry students, plus many of the available fourth-year students, are participating in the workshops, which consist of nine instruction sections delivered over 12 weeks. Each section features an instructor and an advising consultant, roles shared by faculty from the Haas School and the School of Optometry.
Haas School instructors include Professor Jonathan Leonard on human resources management; Professor David Vogel on ethics; Assistant Professor Thomas Davidoff on microeconomics; and lecturer David Robinson on marketing. Serving as advisers are Professor Candace Yano on operations management; Assistant Professor Thomas Davidoff on personal finance; Visiting Associate Professor Godwin Wong on entrepreneurship; and lecturers Rada Brooks on accounting/finance and Alan Ross on business law.
Classes are not for credit and are free to participating students, who must fit the additional coursework in with their existing studies. The School of Optometry is funding the program, with corporate support from Vision Service Plan, Alcon, and Vision West, Inc.
“While the primary thrust for any medical practitioner is giving top quality care to patients, this can only be sustained if a medical practice is also a going concern,” said Dr. Robert DiMartino, chair of the faculty for the School of Optometry and an associate professor of clinical optometry.
“We already have a reputation as a leading optometry school, training people to be the best eye care providers they can be,” he said. “Now, we’d like to widen their options by giving them the tools to be medical providers who can also be successful in an entrepreneurial venture or as a partner in a private practice.”