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11 November, 2023

Tips for Optometry Shadowing

Are you considering shadowing an optometrist? In this article, we will discuss why shadowing is important along with useful tips to help you shadow.
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One of the most important things to do when deciding whether you want to pursue a career in Optometry is to get some hands-on experience in the field. What better way to do that than to shadow an optometrist. Optometry may seem like a great career from the outside; however, you wonโ€™t truly know if it is the right fit for you until you shadow an optometrist and learn the ins and outs of the field.

๐Ÿ‘๏ธ Importance of Job Shadowing

When applying to optometry school, itโ€™s recommended to have 50 shadowing hours. Despite it being a requirement for optometry school applications, there are many benefits to shadowing an optometrist:

  • Learn what a typical day as an optometrist looks like
  • Learn and experience the different types of working environments
  • Encounter many interesting cases
  • Help you determine whether this is the right field for you
  • Build relationships and grow your network

๐Ÿ“ How to Find a Shadowing Position

When searching for a position, you must first decide on an optometrist. This could be your own optometrist or a simple Google search for any in your area. Many clinics have websites listing all their doctors, their educational backgrounds and their specializations. This can help you narrow down which optometrist you would like to contact based on the school and specialty you are interested in.

Next, reach out to them! Email, call, or visit in person. These are all acceptable ways to contact various clinics to inquire about possible shadowing opportunities. When contacting the clinic, it is important to let them know that you are interested in optometry and what you hope to gain from this experience. Make sure to provide them with your availability and contact information. If you are visiting in person, be sure to dress to impress, as if you are attending an interview.

โญ General Tips During Shadowing

  • Ask questions

    This is the best way to learn about the profession. This is your chance to learn more about their perspective on the profession and their experiences. Focus your questions about the work-life balance, schools you are considering applying to, challenges of optometry school or the job. This can be very beneficial in deciding whether this field is the right fit for you.
  • Journal your experience

    Write down interesting cases youโ€™ve encountered and things you have learned along the way. This can be medical terminology, eye diseases or interesting facts and examples. This will be very beneficial when it comes time to apply for optometry school as they will be easily accessible for reference later. These notes will provide you with interesting stories and cases to talk about during your interviews.
  • Build a connection with the optometrist

    You want to make sure the optometrist gets to know you rather than considering you as just another student. Go the extra mile around the clinic or shadow beyond the minimum required hours. Stay in contact with them even after your shadowing period, as they will most likely be your reference when it comes time to apply. Each optometrist you encounter will have a different view of the field and the future of the profession. Asking questions and advice from each of them can be very helpful!
  • Shadow at different clinics

    No two clinics are the same. Working at different clinics gives you new insight into the field and provides new learning opportunities. Whether it is the way the clinic is run, areas of specialization, clinical environment or patient demographics. Moreover, there are many different modes of practice in optometry as well. Whether it be private practice, retail optometry or working with ophthalmologists, the field of optometry is continuously growing with many different career opportunities. Shadowing at different clinics broadens your experience by providing you with the opportunity to work with different patient demographics, gaining insight into your likes and dislikes about the field and learning about the type of working environment you enjoy working in.

All in all, my experiences shadowing various doctors taught me so much about the field, allowed me to make great connections with people and really helped me decide whether or not this was the right field for me. Whether you are in the process of deciding if optometry is for you or if you are fully committed to this field, I highly recommend getting your feet wet by shadowing. It will truly give you an understanding of what the field and profession is all about.