Students from Nova Southeastern University visited Family Vision Center and Dr. Lori Mazza in Wellington, Fla., on one of the recent "practice crawls" that are part of the Vision Source Next program.

KINGWOOD, Texas—Vision Source, under the auspices of its Vision Source Next program, said a unique series of events for optomerty students this year has resulted in Vision Source practices hosting “approximately 20 percent of the nation’s optometry students” for local field trips to visit member practice locations. One of the objectives of the initiative is “to perpetuate private practice optometry,” Vision Source said in its announcement. Vision Source Next, launched in 2018, is a “professional advancement program shaping the future of independent optometry by providing a path to start, buy or work in private practice,” according to the announcement.

One of the components of this initiative are the local field trips or “practice crawls,” which have become very popular among both optometry students and Vision Source practice owners, Vision Source said.

“The intent with these events was to showcase some of our member practices to students, in an interactive, fun environment,” Vision Source chief medical officer Dr. Amir Khoshnevis said in the announcement. “We did not fully anticipate the nationwide explosion in demand, from both students and Vision Source members.’

He added, “In hindsight though, it makes complete sense because our members now have direct access to 20 percent of all U.S. optometry students, while the students are exposed to doctor owners with successful practices built on the foundation of high-clinical or patient care and are connected to over 4,500 independent, private practice optometrists.”

At the events, students are transported by bus into the “living rooms of multiple Vision Source practices, of varying size, age and ownership models,” the announcement noted. The intent is to provide insights from multiple, differentiated practices while building relationships with the students.

“We typically see around 60 students attend a ‘practice crawl,’ but some crawls have been as large as 160 students filling three buses,” Vision Source general manager Jeff Duncan said. “They get to visit different types of practices, meet successful doctors, and see what really happens in a thriving independent private practice setting.”

Alex Kneeland, a class of 2021 student at Midwestern University AZCOPT, said she enjoyed hearing how Vision Source helped various doctors navigate their private practice journeys. "I attended the Vision Source practice crawl in Glendale, Ariz.,” she said in the announcement. “My favorite part of the event was hearing the doctors' testimonials regarding how Vision Source was able to help them in their journey into private practice.”

Khoshnevis noted that the feedback from both members and students has been very positive, which indicates that the program is “something very special.” He added, “Students want to learn about independent optometry and our members have a passion for private practice that becomes clear during these events. We expect to do many more of these, in the coming months, to ensure that students across the country have a clear picture of what it means to be in private practice optometry.”

For more information about the Vision Source Next program, visit the website

Founded in 1991, Vision Source is North America's most extensive network of independent optometrists consisting of over 4,500 optometrists. The clinicians in the Vision Source network enjoy access to newly evolving patient channels, including an expanding list of leading medical groups and integrated health systems with whom Vision Source optometrists collaborate.