Have you ever given serious thought to the various paths you could take as a pre-health student? The healthcare field is extremely diverse, and preparing for a career is not necessarily limited to taking the MCAT and going to medical school. For many, medical school is the right path—but for the rest, it’s worth considering an alternative career.
There are many healthcare career options out there: dentistry, nursing, veterinary, pharmacy, optometry, to name just a few. From any of these professional fields, you can branch out to different areas of specialization. In the first part of this series focusing on optometry school, we will be discussing how to decide if optometry is the right career for you.
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What is optometry?
Optometrists are like your family doctor, but for your eyes. They examine you for eyesight deficiencies and prescribe treatments, glasses, and contacts. Optometry is more than just asking your patient to read letters off the projected screen and selling them a pair of glasses, however. Did you know, for example, that an optometrist can detect whether you have diabetes just by examining your eyes? Some optometrists read case studies to determine the exact type of defect than an individual may have. It is possible to detect glaucoma, cataracts, and various eye diseases from different types of tests.
How do you become an optometrist?
After obtaining a bachelor degree and completing the necessary prerequisites, you will take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)—whereas for medical school you would take the MCAT. You will then need to complete a four-year program at an accredited optometry school.
What is optometry school like?
You will begin your optometry school experience by attending class and studying textbook material, just like in your undergraduate years. The curriculum soon becomes more hands-on, and you will begin clinical rotations in which you practice working with patients.
Optometry schools train their students to become excellent eye doctors. Each program offers different areas of specialization, such as contacts, sports vision, etc. After completing your degree, you have the option of doing a residency program in which you will work alongside another doctor at their clinic. You also have the option of diving into your career right away and finding a job in any city you desire.
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Start your own practice or join a clinic?
Both options are available to you. You could open your own clinic and build your career from there. Keep in mind, however, that this is a difficult task and requires a business mindset. It is also very expensive to buy new equipment and start your business from scratch.
Maybe starting your own clinic isn’t right for you. You can alternatively get hired at a clinic that is already up and running. All you have to do is apply the skills that you learned in optometry school.
As an optometrist, you will not be on call or working in emergency. You will be able to work a regular 9 to 5 job with plenty of time to spend with your family and your hobbies. At times, it is possible that your appointments will run late and you may get off work slightly later than you anticipated. You will be interacting with patients all day, so it is important to have a friendly and personable demeanor.
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