Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions Announces a New College of Optometry and Appoints Dr. Adam Hickenbotham as Dean

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PROVO, Utah—Addressing what it said is a shortage of optometry colleges in the western U.S., Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) announced an intent to develop a new college of optometry with Adam Hickenbotham, OD, MPH, PhD, selected as the founding dean. In this role, Hickenbotham will oversee the development of the curriculum, the hiring of faculty and staff, and guide the new college through the accreditation process in preparation for an anticipated opening in 2023, according to an announcement earlier this month.

The new college of optometry is seeking accreditation through the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, requiring a multistage process before a new school can begin to recruit or enroll students.


Adam Hickenbotham, OD
“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 Richard P. Nielsen, PT, DHSc, ECS, founding president and chief executive of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. “The college of optometry will offer the traditional training that optometrists have received in the past, but will also be designed to prepare physician-level providers of optometry.”

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for optometrists will grow an estimated 30 percent during the next 10 years.

“Due to an aging U.S. population, we must prepare for a potential shortage of optometric physicians during the next few decades,” Hickenbotham said. “The Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions’ College of Optometry will help alleviate this impending shortage by preparing, teaching, and graduating new optometrists to meet the demand for primary eyecare in the fastest-growing region of the country which is currently without an optometric training institution.”

Hickenbotham has more than 17 years of clinical experience, including the management of multiple surgery centers and private practice clinics. He has owned a private clinic and has worked in both small and large practices for many years. He remains at the forefront of the most recent ophthalmic treatments through ongoing continued education.

Besides his clinical work, Hickenbotham has more than 20 years of background in academic settings, research, administration, and other roles. He is also the inventor of numerous patents on laser surgical technology in the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, and other countries.

Thru-Focus Optics LLC, a surgical research company he founded, recently completed a first-in-human clinical trial on new laser treatment for presbyopia, which is the loss of near vision that occurs with age.

Hickenbotham was a founding faculty member at the University of Pikeville, College of Optometry, filling several leadership roles, including chair of the Rank and Promotions Committee, vice-chair of the Academic Standards Committee, secretary of the Admissions Committee, and chair of the Scholarships and Award Committee.

Hickenbotham has extensive experience in developing a college of optometry. He 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 for the college of optometry.