November 8, 2023 by
Lucy Gardner Carson
Ophthalmologist Jessica McNally, M.D., assistant professor of surgery
(NOVEMBER 8, 2023) Ophthalmologist Jessica McNally, M.D., assistant professor of surgery, was interviewed by WCAX-TV for a story about lawmakers looking to extend some surgical permission to optometrists, in response to a shortage of fully trained eye surgeons.
In a new report issued this week, the Office of Professional Regulation recommends that optometrists be able to perform surgery if they complete additional training, apply for a special endorsement, and report all advanced procedures and their outcomes to the state. Vermont health care officials say their goals are to balance cost, quality, and access, and that eye care is no different. Dean Barcelow, O.D., president of the Vermont Optometric Association, said, “We are well equipped to move forward with these recommendations and bring them to Vermont.”
But ophthalmologists—who, unlike optometrists, are specialists who also perform eye exams and surgeries but receive years of additional training—say they have concerns about how the proposal will impact patient safety. “Looking at the people I take care of and thinking about what the best thing for them is, I really do think they need to have someone who is fully trained in surgery to do these surgeries,” McNally said.
It’s not yet clear if and when lawmakers will take up the proposal.
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