MS/OD China Program
In November 2000, Wenzhou Medical College and The New England College of Optometry initiated a unique joint degree program providing those completing the program with two degrees: the master of science and doctor of optometry degrees. The program was specifically created to develop a cadre of knowledgeable and skilled optometrists in China who could assume the highest positions in China’s medical education and health care systems. The proposal was endorsed by China's Ministry of Education and Ministry of Public Health. The M.S./O.D. China curriculum combines the A.O.D.P. program and the Master of Science degree with joint clinical externships that include six months in Boston based rotations and six months at Wenzhou Medical College. Comprehensive accreditation and approval has been received by the American Colleges of Optometric Education and the New England Association and Schools and Colleges in the U.S.
The program's goal is to develop a core group of individuals trained in optometry and educated as scientists to advance the quality of eye care and the development of educational programs within the field of optometry. Graduates of the program have gone on to hold the following positions:
- Director of research and development at the Affiliated Eye Hospital, Wenzhou
- Director of international programs for the School of Optometry and Ophthalmology, Wenzhou
- Country coordinator of health services for the International Special Olympics
- Editor of Contact Lenses, Optometric Instrumentation, Visual Neurophysiology, and Ophthalmic Lenses
- Vice director of the Affiliated Eye Hospital, Wenzhou
- Principle lecturer at the Wenzhou Medical College
Graduates of the program have also received grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and The Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province and the Ministry of Health in Beijing. They have been elected to the People's National Congress, lectured nationally, and have provided significant continuing education in the area of contact lenses for the ophthalmic industry.
Fifteen N.E.C.O. faculty members have taught at Wenzhou Medical College. They provided lectures and expertise in their area of specialization and their efforts are ongoing. Faculty members have included Drs. Comerford, Harb, Gilman, Jamara, Kran, Kwok, McCormack, Moore, Patel, Scott, Thorn, Wang, Weissberg, Watanabe, and Zorn.
In addition, the clinical externship established at Wenzhou Medical College in recent years has been included as an elective externship rotation site for fourth year O.D. students of N.E.C.O.
Seventeen students have matriculated into the joint M.S./O.D. program and twelve have graduated to date. Despite the relatively small number of students admitted to the program, the impact so far has been significant and has already had a direct impact on the level of optometric care available in China.
N.E.C.O. has helped facilitate, design, and implement an educational program that provides the highest level of education in optometry in China. The quality of this education has provided the profession a prestige within China due to the program's selective admissions policy. Graduates of the program have consistently returned to China to hold leadership positions and continue to strengthen the profession within the country.