Focused on Excellence in Optometric Education and Vision Research

Buckeye Optometrists Around the World Doug McCloy (OD’95)

Practicing from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jamaica
Dr. McCloy in Jamaica
Dr. McCloy welcoming OD’s to Jamaica

In this installment of Buckeyes Around the World, we go to the Caribbean as we feature Doug McCloy (OD’95). Dr McCloy currently practices in both Jamaica and Chattanooga, Tennessee. He started his official internship for licensure in Jamaica at the Mandeville Public Hospital Eye Clinic in September 1995, and he essentially has practiced in Jamaica, either part- or full-time, ever since.

How did this Buckeye optometrist end up in Jamaica? According to Dr. McCloy, “All throughout my undergraduate education and even during my years at Ohio State, I coordinated spring break trips to Jamaica because I personally loved all that Jamaica offered in lifestyle and the warmth of the people."

When I realized the significant need they had visually and the opportunity to practice there presented itself, it felt like a perfect match for me as a professional to make a difference and enjoy life at the same time.
Dr. Doug McCloy

For Dr. McCloy, becoming licensed in Jamaica required a six-month internship in the public health arena. Today, the requirements remain largely unchanged, although there is an exception for individuals with a U.S., Canadian, or U.K. optometry degree who already have an active license to practice. In these cases, the internship can be waived. However, arranging for Jamaica’s Medical Council to convene for new candidates is highly unpredictable and often challenging. Describing the process as frustrating would be a significant understatement, especially when considering the urgent demand for qualified optometrists in the country.

As with other Ohio State Optometry graduates featured in this series, the scope of practice in Jamaica differs from that of the U.S.

“I was given a dose of reality on the first day of my internship at the public hospital when I realized my exam room consisted solely of an old wooden chair and a window curtain to control room illumination,” Dr. McCloy says. “Although our facilities have improved over time, almost 30 years later our legal scope of practice remains archaic and provides no therapeutic privileges. We have internally developed a co-management model with ophthalmology to hurdle the therapeutic issue, and to do our best for the patient. Daily we practice outside the boundary of the written scope of practice because the magnitude of ocular disease is significantly skewed from a lack of access to quality care. The bureaucratic barriers to licensure and scope of practice make it almost impossible to care for all the need.”  

In the earlier days, Dr. McCloy and his family lived full time in Jamaica, but for most of his career they navigated life by doing school years in Jamaica and summers back in Ohio. In 2002, he opened Professional Eyecare in Western Jamaica and now has six locations around the island.

Professional EyeCare provides full scope eye care services to a population that is both underserved and economically challenged. From 2008 to 2013, Dr. McCloy worked with Paul Gamertsfelder (BS’54) to construct the Gamertsfelder Mission and Eye Surgery Center and form the Mission of Sight foundation. Mission of Sight is a volunteer organization with an emphasis on sustainable eye care that also employs and empowers Jamaican nationals. Mission of Sight is committed to eradicating blindness and other forms of visual poverty, helping Jamaicans who cannot see or struggle with impaired vision to get their life back by restoring their sight. Dr. McCloy continues as the Executive Director of the organization. After moving to Chattanooga in 2017, he says he’s morphed into a commuter to Jamaica and now spends on average of one week a month on island while overseeing the clinical model remotely. 

“As our world becomes more global and virtual, the opportunity to participate in optometry abroad has become more feasible,” he says. “But I would say before you pick up and move to your favorite holiday destination to practice, make certain ‘you know that you know’ because working in a foreign country is rarely as pleasurable or simple as vacationing there.”