Join Date: Jan 2007
I think what prompted me to start a thread about this matter is my disappointment in seeing this matter of over saturation first hand as a recent graduate. After months of searching and applying to jobs, I have realized how truly horrifying the job market for optometrists really is in Southern California and how it will almost certainly become progressively worse in the future, and that reality is hard to grasp even though it is that I have anticipated. There is no purpose or solution on my part in posting this thread, I am simply sharing my first hand experience of what it’s like to be a new grad and be faced with the choice of moving to another state, to be away from your family and loved ones so you can afford to pay off your loans and maybe even having some spending money left over after paying the highest tax bracket. I don’t have a problem personally with landing a job, and day after day I consider myself very lucky to be in the position I am in right now. However, I do wonder, and actually care, about how all the 100+ (just my estimating, but considering the graduates from two schools and those who attend out of state collages I’m sure it’s somewhere around that number) graduates each year are going to survive in this type of environment for the long run, as well as for all our colleagues who have been working in the field.
Throughout the last 4 years of school and going through rotations, I have repeatedly heard about how people who graduate from residencies are not finding jobs in California and the majority of graduates have to piece together jobs to get by, while hoping that something better will come along. I personally feel that with the continuation of this problem our profession will start to corrode in that doctors will be forced, more than what I think should be necessary, in selling materials and making desperate moves to fill their appointment books, which for the most part is not being filled anyway. I also hope that the current and prospective students of optometry schools should realize, maybe more so than they think, that commercial practice will almost certainly be the pathway that they will enter into, and will be forced to stay there. The schools are boasting the need for optometrists and the expanded scope of practice which will make optometry a growing profession. That may be true for many other states but that’s definitely not the case here. Many students talk about how their school is very oriented in neuro-optometry, VT, etc, but in reality I think there are very, very few spots to fill for those positions, and most/all will require additional training which may or most likely will not pay off.
I realize this topic is pretty much beating a dead horse, and that this seemingly whiney attitude seem make me like an incompetent individual with no social skills which is why I’m ranting about this in the first place. It may seem like I’m being impatient, or that my expectations were set too high, or I was not smart in the way I am approaching this matter. All of that may be true, but I am confident that my abilities as a clinician is strong, and my interpersonal skills equally if not even greater. So far I have had great success with the offices I have signed on with, and am actually getting more hours than I can handle working about 6-7 days per week, and I love what I do every day. I do, however, believe that due to the competition and saturation that I am along with those in my circumstance, undervalued and exploited. I have an offer, a very good offer I might add, to be part of a robust private practice. However, that position, and I think along with any of such kind, came from a combination of luck and hard work. It is not advertised, only circulated amongst a small group of individuals and I happen to be lucky enough to have come across it. Had I not come across that opportunity, I would definitely have moved to another state. It is that fear, that what if I wasn’t in the right place at the right time, which will result in my being forced to be in commercial practice (although it’s actually not that bad) for an indefinite amount of time, to be waiting for opportunities that may never arise in this extremely competitive environment.
I think we have all worked very hard for our degree, passed too many board exams and paid too much tuition to have to consistently worry about where your Tuesday or Wednesday shifts are going to come from next week, or to hope that you get that call for you to come in the day you have no shifts scheduled, or the opposite, to get the call that your shift is canceled because not enough patients are scheduled. It probably is none of my business to care as long as I’m done well, but it really is. It my business, in my opinion, to know that our profession is healthy and growing, and I’m not sure if I’m seeing that at all in California.