Hero image background
BlogStudy Guides
11 November, 2023

Is Optometry Right for Me?

You might be wondering “Is Optometry Right for Me?” In this article, we will discuss how you can tell if Optometry is the right career for you.
Storyteller Avatar
OATBooster
Booster Prep
Storyteller Avatar
OATBooster
Booster Prep
OATBooster is the #1 study tool for the OAT and contains everything you need to prepare for the OAT. See why OATBooster is used by most pre-optometry students.

When considering your future career path, it can be hard to determine if optometry is the right field for you. Obtaining a Doctor of Optometry degree is a big commitment. It requires at least 3 years of undergraduate education after high school before a challenging 4 years of optometry school. However, being an optometrist has been reported to be one of the best healthcare jobs. This is supplemented by the rewarding patient interactions and many exciting opportunities for growth as an optometrist. In this article, we will discuss reasons for pursuing optometry and how to make sure optometry is right for you.

In this article, we will discuss reasons for pursuing optometry and how to make sure optometry is right for you.

👩‍⚕️ Why Optometry?

Optometry is an exciting career that involves many different aspects, such as scientific knowledge, clinical skills, and business management. It is a rewarding healthcare profession, and the projected employment growth means you will not have trouble finding a job. If you are considering optometry, here are 5 reasons why you should follow through:

  1. 1️⃣ Fulfilling job nature: Optometrists give back to the community and gain instant gratification from producing tangible, immediate results through eye exams. The ability to see is an invaluable sense for everyday life, so you will make a big difference in patients' lives by helping them correct or enhance their vision. Through these encounters, you can also build long-lasting relationships with your patients, making the job more meaningful and fulfilling. Aside from practicing in a clinic, you can also help provide vision care and screenings for the less fortunate. This includes joining organizations (i.e. VOSH) to participate in international mission trips or holding pop-up clinics in your local community.
     
  2. 2️⃣ Growing occupational outlook: With the current population demographics of North America, we will see a rise in elderly patients in the upcoming years. This goes along with a rise in systemic conditions and a need for optometrists, as eye doctors can detect health-related issues through eye exams. The demand for optometrists is also supported by the statistics. For instance, the Bureau of Labour Statistics has stated that optometry is expected to grow by about 9% in the United States from 2020 to 20301. Also, optometry has been listed in the top 10 Canadian occupations with the strongest annual employment growth from 2019 to 2028. This means you will not have trouble finding a job or establishing a stable income after graduating from optometry school.
     
  3. 3️⃣ Variety of practice modalities: Optometrists have free reign in choosing their practice setting. After graduation, you could open a private practice or start a group practice. Even more, you could work in a community health center or hospital or a more retail or corporate clinical setting. Outside of the clinic, you could join the military to provide vision care for the armed forces. If you enjoy teaching, you could use your knowledge to give back through academia and empower the next generation of optometrists by teaching optometry courses or providing mentorship in clinical settings. Furthermore, you could work in a research facility to better understand the eye and its different pathologies. Clearly, optometry provides a variety of practice modalities, and you can cater to the occupation to suit your lifestyle and needs.
     
  4. 4️⃣ Different occupation opportunities: Other than the choice of work environment and modality, there are also many opportunities in the growing career of optometry. Not only can you choose your practice modality, but you can also choose who you work with. For instance, you could involve other healthcare professions to facilitate more patient-centered care, such as ophthalmologists, medical doctors and pharmacists. Within optometry, you can also specialize in specific fields, depending on what you are passionate about. This includes fields such as low vision care, contact lenses, pediatric care, geriatric care, vision therapy, and ocular disease. New fields of practice are also emerging alongside new technological developments, such as myopia control and dry eye disease. Therefore, optometry is an exciting, constantly adapting profession that can be catered to align with your interests.
     
  5. 5️⃣ Generous work-life balance: Starting off as an associate optometrist, you will work consistent and regular hours. The clinical setting is clean and low-stress, as there are no on-call or night shifts and rarely any emergencies. This means you will have time for family and hobbies outside of work. If you open your own private practice, you can cater the work schedule to your lifestyle by choosing your working hours and the type of services or technologies your clinic provides. In addition, there are rarely any emergency surgeries or procedures required, which reduces the amount of stress from the occupation. At the same time, you will be making a good income. The median salary for optometrists in America was $ 118,050 in 20201 and $ 85,115 in 20193 for Canada.

🤔 How Do I Make Sure?

As with considering any occupation, it is best to get involved and ask questions. You should make sure you know what you will be getting into before becoming a Doctor of Optometry. Here are 5 ways to make sure optometry is right for you:

  1. 1️⃣ Shadow: Reach out to local optometry clinics! Ask if any optometrists would be willing to have you sit in on their eye exams, answer any questions, and walk you through the basics of an eye exam. This is one of the best ways to make sure optometry is right for you. Shadowing allows you to observe both the clinical testing in the exam room and the long-lasting patient-doctor relationships established. In addition, you can also reach out to more clinics and try shadowing at different practice modalities to get a better idea of how different doctors conduct their eye exams.
     
  2. 2️⃣ Volunteer or work at a clinic: Apply for Optometric Assistant positions or reach out to local optometry clinics to see if they are looking for volunteers. Compared to shadowing, regularly showing up to a clinic is just as important, if not more so. This is because your regular presence at an optometry clinic will provide more exposure to different patients and clinical cases. This means regular learning opportunities on machines used in the clinic, the exam room, and different eye diseases and their treatments. At the same time, you will learn about the business side of optometry, such as reception work and ordering glasses. This will give you a glimpse into the daily routine of an optometry clinic.
     
  3. 3️⃣ Get involved at school: Outside of being in the clinic, you can also join the Pre-Optometry Club at school. This will allow you to meet like-minded individuals who share your passion for healthcare and may also be considering optometry. Club members can share tips on their undergraduate preparation or writing the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) and optometry school applications. Overall, having a community of mutual support at school can help you better determine if optometry is right for you.
     
  4. 4️⃣ Volunteer in the community: Aside from clinical exposure and being involved in school, you can also get involved in extracurriculars in the community. For instance, you can join and volunteer with organizations such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). This will provide you with opportunities to work with visually impaired individuals and gain insight into different ocular conditions. Even more, there are organizations such as Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) and Third World Eye Care Society (TWECS) that provide opportunities to go on international mission trips or local vision screenings. If you want to be more involved in the optometric field, definitely look into these organizations to learn more!
     
  5. 5️⃣ Ask questions: If you are struggling to find opportunities to get involved at school or to gain clinical exposure, don’t give up! I would recommend reaching out to optometry clinics again and asking if you can interview the optometrists. This is less time-consuming for both parties, but you can still gain insight into working as an optometrist. This would also help you figure out whether or not the job would align with your lifestyle and needs. Here are a few questions that would be good to ask:
  • Why did you choose optometry?
  • Which school did you attend and why?
  • What does a typical day look like for you?
  • What is your favorite and least favorite part about the job?
  • Where do you see the future of optometry heading?

👉 Conclusion

If you are considering pursuing optometry, it is important to figure out what you are getting into before diving in. Optometry school is a big commitment, so ask questions and get as much clinical experience as you can. If you decide to go for optometry, you will be entering a rewarding profession that allows you to give back to the community, make strong, long-lasting relationships, and ultimately prevent blindness. I hope this article is helpful in your decision-making process and good luck!

References

  1. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, September 8). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Optometrists. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/optometrists.htm
  2. Government of Canada. (2019, December). Job Bank: Optometrist in Canada. https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/wages-occupation/18193/ca;jsessionid=1210182FE0EEA6968878AFFD9EB84D73.jobsearch76