One of the most important things to do when deciding whether or not you want to pursue a specific career is to throw yourself into the field. Considering optometry school? It may seem like a great career path from an outside point of view, but what if it turns out that it’s not actually something you want to spend the rest of your life on?
The best way to find out if a career is right for you is to shadow someone already in that position. Shadowing an optometrist is also a requirement for optometry school admission, so it is important to shadow as much as possible if you want to get accepted.
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What is shadowing?
Shadowing is exactly what it sounds like—you will be somebody’s “shadow” for the day, following them around at their workplace, watching their every move, and considering whether you could see yourself doing that until you retire.
When shadowing an optometrist, you will be sitting in the exam room with the doctor and the patient. The doctor will first ask the patient if they feel comfortable with you in the room, and if they say yes, then you can stay. If they say no, you would respectfully leave for that examination. Some optometrists will also allow you to shadow the business aspect of the clinic so that you can see there is more to optometry than examining someone’s eyes—it is also a business.
How to find a shadowing position
There are a variety of ways that you can land a shadowing position. First, you need to decide on a doctor. One of the easiest doctors to choose is your own optometrist. If you do not have a specific optometrist, you can search for any optometry clinics in your city and contact any one of them you like. Many clinics also have their own website describing their doctors and letting you know where they attended optometry school. This can be helpful, since it allows you to decide whether you want to shadow somebody who attended schools in which you are interested.
While you are shadowing the optometrist, it is important to develop a relationship with them in case you will one day need a reference letter from them. You want the optometrist to like you and get to know you, rather than you just being another student that shadowed them for a day.
If possible, ask the doctor whether you can shadow them for more than one day, since this will give them time to get to know you. Also make sure that you stay in contact with them even after your shadowing period. This can be as simple as updating them on your schooling or wishing them a happy new year! They appreciate these emails every once in awhile.
Shadowing a profession can help you decide whether or not you really belong in the path you are thinking about pursuing. It is so important to shadow early because it prevents you from investing so much of your time, money and effort into one profession only to find out that it is not what you actually want to do.
[ KEEP STUDYING: Is Optometry School right for you? ]