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Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions Plans Optometry College

It’s expected to open in 2023.

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PROVO, UT — Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions has announced plans to develop an optometry college.

Adam Hickenbotham, OD, MPH, PhD, has been chosen as the founding dean, according to a press release.

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Hickenbotham will oversee the development of the curriculum and hiring of faculty and staff. He will also guide the college through the accreditation process in preparation for an anticipated opening in 2023. The college is seeking accreditation through the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, a multistage process before a new school can begin to recruit or enroll students.

“We are pleased Dr. Hickenbotham, one of the leading experts and groundbreakers in optometry, will lead our efforts in starting our College of Optometry,” said Dr. Richard P. Nielsen, founding president and CEO of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. “The College will offer the traditional training that optometrists have received in the past but will also prepare physician-level providers of optometry.”

Hickenbotham said, “Due to an aging U.S. population, we must prepare for a potential shortage of optometric physicians during the next few decades. The RMUoHP College of Optometry will help alleviate this shortage by preparing new optometrists to meet the demand for primary eye care in the fastest-growing region of the country which is currently without an optometric training institution.”

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Hickenbotham has more than 17 years of clinical experience, including the management of surgery centers and private practice clinics. He is ranked among the top one percent of all optometrists in the country, having performed ocular surgeries such as trabeculoplasties, iridotomies, capsulotomies, etc.

The release noted that Hickenbotham “played a crucial role in creating a new college of optometry in Tennessee where he was the Director of Research for the College of Health Sciences and the Assistant Dean for Research.”

In early 2019, Hickenbotham joined the leadership team of the Niswonger College of Optometry at Tusculum University in Tennessee. Tusculum announced in April 2020 that it was pausing efforts to launch the college. The university cited “COVID-19-driven changes in the optometry delivery care system” and the “likely timetable for the accrediting body that is reviewing Tusculum’s plans” as the reasons for its decision.

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