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NEED ADVICE: Optometry or Pharmacy Future Outlook

Discussion in 'Optometry' started by cuteeenerd, Apr 8, 2012.

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  1. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    Hi, I'm a second year student and have applied for pharmacy for next year. I'm on here because I've been reading around and seeing how the pharmacy profesion is being really saturated right now. With 2 schools in Ontario, there is bound to be a surplus of undergrads coming out each year. So after seeing all this, I decided to look into my other choice of profession, Optometry. And I've also seen similar negative comments about it as well. Basic line, I'm very confused on whether I should pursure pharmacy right now and see what happens when I graduate OR apply for optometry and have better luck with that (if I get in).

    I currently have a 3.9 cGPA, which I've worked very hard for and do not want to pick a profession that will make it difficult to pay back student loans. I've also been working in a pharmacy for the past 8 months and even though the job isn't exactly exciting, I like learning about medicine and their interactions. But what pushed me toward optometry is the eye really facinates me (I had an eye surgeory at a young age too) and I feel it will oprovide more oppurtunity to open up your own business, which I really wish to do. But the physics involved in optomtery is probably not my strength as chemistry and biology is.

    Any advice you guys may have, I would love to hear. :) Thanks in advance and sorry for the ramble :$
  2. Satstill

    Satstill

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    Apply to medical schools. All problems solved!
  3. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    Yes, 4 years of out of state tuition for a Canadian and then 3-11 years of further training while loans are accruing interest! Yay! Well you can do only 3 years after and become a family medicine physician and make the same per hour as a pharmacist or optometrist while having more student debt loans! Yay!
  4. swtster

    swtster ICO, Class of 2016

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    OR she could stay in Canada. Medical school in Canada is much cheaper than pharmacy and optometry school are in the States.

    @cuteeenerd: Did you apply to both UofT and UW for pharmacy?
  5. hello07

    hello07

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    3.9 GPA? why are you wasting your time with optometry or pharmacy?
    Apply to med schools and your question/s answered.
  6. PharmaTope

    PharmaTope

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    hmm that is incorrect. most family guys i know make 200k. last time i checked i dont know too many pharmacists or optometrists making 200k, having full flexibility of their schedule, the ability to start medical entrepreneurial adventures.
  7. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    making 200k working how many hours?
  8. PharmaTope

    PharmaTope

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    40-50 hours a week.
  9. syma

    syma

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    I always thought it was a bit strange to come online to ask people what you should be doing for the rest of your life.

    Nevertheless, just because someone has a high GPA it doesn't mean that they have to be directed to medical school.
  10. Jason K

    Jason K

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    Shnurek likes to make assumptions without any underlying data to support them. He assumes that because MDs have varying pay, then surely the family docs on the lower end of the scale would be close to ODs in terms of pay since we're the "family docs" of the eye world. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that internists and family docs rarely make as little as ODs, especially at the starting point. Starting pay for new ODs in a private setting is around 70-80K IF you can find a FT position somewhere. I think you'd have a hard time finding an MD internist working for that amount unless he/she were working 2 days per week.

    Shnurek, I think with your desire to pursue a "surgical residency" and your unrelenting desire to equalize medicine and optometry in your own mind, you should have gone to medical school. Then you could wear 3 pairs of scrubs and 5 stethoscopes if you wanted and you wouldn't look like the guy who wears the Metallica Tshirt to the Metallica concert.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  11. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    Yes it is a bit strange, but I'm not asking someone to tell me what to do for the rest of my life. I wanted advice on both professions and was wondering if anyone had some insight that I have not yet heard to make my decision easier.

    About med school, a lot of people have asked me "why not medicine?" Yes, i have the grades, but I don't have think I have enough determination to get me through. There's something about the lifestyle of doctors and bodily fluids/blood that doesnt attract me to the profession. I'd rather make less money, but have a more relaxed lifestyle and be able to have my own family and spend time with them. But then again, I do enjoy learning and being challenged, which I think might not happen in pharm or opto :(

    Canadian med schools are less expensive, but there is also greater competition. People with a 4.0 gpa don't sometimes get in. Plus, I lack the volunteer experience and not sure if work experience would make up for that :S (if i were to apply)

    @swtster, I applied for UofT, I couldn't apply for waterloo because one of their required courses is a third year course where I study so I couldn't meet all the requirements.
  12. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    Hi Jason K, I see you are an Optometrist yourself, so you're trying to say the pay isnt good at all? Or no where comparable to a doctor?
  13. thecgrblue

    thecgrblue Enjoyin' the journey

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    I use these forums all the time, take the input, and consider it in context with experiences I have in real life away from they keyboard.
  14. Jason K

    Jason K

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    The problem is, there are many established ODs out there who are doing very well. I know a few older docs in their 50s and 60s who take home a good pile of cash. Unfortunately, prospective students look at those doctors and say "Hey, that's a pretty good gig - I could do that, right?? Wrong. Optometry today is not the same profession it was when those doctors started or bought their practices. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, it cost about as much as a course of orthodontics to get fit into hard contacts. Today, it costs about 50 dollars in come cases, maybe 100 if you go to an expensive practice. Our services have been devalued because optometry has been sold out to corporations who give away our services in exchange for the chance to sell glasses and contacts. Starting pay for ODs out of school hasn't changed much in the last 15 years. If you came out of school in 1995, you'd be making about the same as you'd make today.

    What I'm saying is, the pay doesn't justify the cost of the degree. If the OD cost $20,000, I probably wouldn't be on here. But when you pay 200K or more in some cases, only to come out and struggle to find a FT position in anything other than a commercial garbage bin, the degree starts to be less appealing. The schools won't tell you how hard it is for new grads to find decent FT work. That might ruin their chances of getting their hands on your money.

    If you're ok spending 150-200K on a degree that will likely land you in a commercial setting making 65-90K for the rest of your days, then you might be ok with optometry. Just remember that you have to pay those loans back every month and it's not a small chunk of change.

    Optometry is just not what it used to be, just like many other professions, but I'm on here talking about optometry. Just do your own research and really find out the truth before you sign anything. Don't look at wealthy ODs and make your decisions based on what they have. Don't listen to what the schools tell you and most definitely, don't listen to the AOA nonsense.
  15. yunowu

    yunowu

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    Most of you don't know me, but I lurk here quite often. Jason K is definitely one of colorful SDN commentators that keeps me coming back to this forum. He is as entertaining as he is informative !!:thumbup::laugh: To all future potential Optometrists and recent graduates, I just like to add my two cents. Learn how the world really works vs what "they" tell you what the world is like. This year is going to be very busy for me as a semi-retired dentist..let's see..I am taking an Arctic cruise in the beginning July and off to the London Olympic games after that. That Shanghai Leading dentist job better be as good as it advertised, or I am really going to be pissed !!:laugh: Best wishes to everyone from a grumpy old dentist.:)
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  16. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    Hmmm, I'm so confused now about what I want to do in life. The thing with optometry, I keep hearing different stories. Its hard to believe it would be become so saturated as there is only 1 english school in Canada. But then again I guess people doing their degrees from elsewhere come here too. Schooling is expensive (going over 100K), and I wasn't looking at wealthy optometrists, but was looking forward to be able to make around 80-120K, or most prefereably, start my own business. I personally do not know many optometrists, but I am going to make an effort to talk to the couple I do know after exams.

    Jason K, if you were to go back now, what would you go into?

    Yonowu, was that sarcasm? you seem to be a happy person, not a grumpy dentist. Lol
  17. yunowu

    yunowu

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    Correction. I became a happy camper after I liquidated my private practice at the end of '09, at the tender age of 45. In case if you are wondering about my age. That meant that I no longer have to deal with stingy insurance companies. I lived well below my means during most of 90's to the end of last decade. And thank goodness most of my past investments offered surprisingly good returns. That is the secret to early retirement, and happiness for that matter.
  18. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    Optometry attracts people like me. People that like to get off the beaten path of medicine. People that have to be strong to survive in such an endeavor. If you are not of the self-employment type. If you do not want to fight for optometry. If you are not willing to relocate to an area where you can succeed. Then do not do it. Optometry was my first career choice and I am loving it more and more every day. I hope my zeal continues many years after graduation.
  19. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    Now let me just disclaim that the financial aspects also played into my decision. I will be graduating with less than $50k in debt and I'd say about 80% of my fellow students will have more than this.

    You should go out and shadow doctors of all types. Its not about if optometry is a good career. Its about if optometry is a good career for YOU. Also, in my reasoning I thought that proximal superiority is better than distal mediocrity. Let me explain. The school I go to is #2 in the nation for optometry and also #2 least expensive. If I went to medical school I'd just be pretty much average and I'd end up with an average residency with 2x-4x more debt.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  20. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    What do you mean by liquidated :S And does that mean you were not all that pleased being a dentist before (even with the money?) You sound like a pharmacist I work with, shes amazing. She's told me every job is a job and gets boring, so she goes on vacation atleast 3 times a year. Does good investing and is planning for an early retirement, seems like a good life, but seems its getting harder for each generation though :(
  21. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    I'm going around reading/trying to do my research and feel like med students are happier. I just assumed due to the stress, they would be less satisfied, but idk. I'm more gravitated toward optometry as I thought it would eventually provide a relaxing lifestyle. And I really want to go for self employment and will put my effort is becoming established. But i obviously would want to be successful and would want a rewarding outcome. However, relocating anywhere is not something I could not do. My family and friends are a big part of my life and would not want to live more than 1-2 hr drive from them (in the city)

    I'm going to shadow around this summer and see how bad Optometry is in Canada :S Maybe its not as bad, like we only really have 1 school lol

    btw, i really appreciate everyone replying here, i didnt think anyone would actually provide feedback >.<
  22. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    About the debt, if I were to cover everything myself it would be around 100K in debt. My parents have always told me to not look at that money and would more than happy to help me. I'd most likely decline their help though(wouldn't want to feel guilty spending their hard earned money), but its nice to have that sense of assurance, right.
  23. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    I actually disagree. Almost every optometrist I met in real life was pretty awesome and loved their job. People at my school are awesome and I enjoy their company a lot. There is not so much cut throat competition that happens in optometry like of the sort that happens at medical schools because med schools attract type A personalities and everyone is gunning for the best residency they can get. Also, we are united in our fight against organized ophthalmology. Personally, every person/friend I know that is in med school is type A for a§§hole.
  24. yunowu

    yunowu

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    I managed a rather large Las Vegas private dental practice. Due to the fact that my dental clinic enjoyed a special relationship with the local casinos, insurance companies "assigned" (yes they can do that in the old days) about 10,000 patients to me at any given month. Hence I had to see a large volume of patients per day. My body really took a beating during those years. Even though I routinely visit my chiropractor at least twice a month and my deep-tissue masseuse every week. Daily grind really took its toll. My wife the office manager frequently used the term "grumpy old man" to describe me. You have to realize too that the patient pool IQ did not exactly ranked high on the totem pole. My dental clinic averaged about 1.3 million to 1.5 million collections per year in the last decade. I was blessed with good financial advisers whom in turn invested the my funds wisely. As the years went on, things (insurance reimbursement) got rather political and heated between all the dental providers and the insurance companies, especially when the economy turned south at the end of '08. Hence physical exhaustion coupled with my growing frustration toward the insurance companies are the main driving force behind my decision to liquidate my dental practice at the end of 09....Your pharmacist is correct. After a while every job becomes routine....
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  25. janedoe88

    janedoe88

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    Even if you live with your parents AND live in state...
    Tuition (in-state)
    $18,600
    (Not including student activity fee, books, medical supplies, food, entertainment)
    let's round to $20,000....so times 4 that's $80,000 AT LEAST.

    how are you paying less than 50k??
  26. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    "I will be graduating with less than $50k in debt"

    is different than paying less than 50k
  27. Jason K

    Jason K

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    This is hilarious. By what system, the Shnurek US Optometry College Rankings?:laugh:
  28. swtster

    swtster ICO, Class of 2016

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    As a Canadian student, I don't think the state of optometry is as bad in Canada as it is in the US. Most of the opinions on these forums apply if you intend to study and practice in the US. However, that doesn't mean that optometry in Canada doesn't have problems of its own (e.g. the B.C. legislation, the International Bridging Program at UW etc.) or that the concerns US optometrists have aren't relevant.

    Every country is different and every city is different. Toronto has an over-abundance of optometrists but in Ottawa, where I'm from, the outlook for optometry is still very good. It's all relative.

    Just keep asking questions, shadow as many different optometrists as you can, and keep your mind open.
  29. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    Yeee, thats what I was thinking too. Toronto is saturated with every kind of profession, guess its a very desirable city. Being from that area, I wouldnt mind relocating with like a 2 hr distance to a less developed city if I had to. I think the states having 150 or so schools for O.D and 1 in Canada has a lot to say too about the competition and future outlook.
  30. janedoe88

    janedoe88

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    So your parents gave you 30k? I don't understand where you're getting the money from in your calculation.
  31. stoikiometry

    stoikiometry

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    Waterloo may graduate 90 per year but I think there's another 90 coming back from US schools. Not sure about the numbers but don't forget it's more than just Waterloo.
  32. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    Yea, I know, from various other places as well. Plus the bridging program probably makes it convenient too. But it still cannot be as saturated as the states (hopeful thinking). Before people start attacking me, this is solely my opinion atm, but I'm going to get in touch with some optometrists this summer and try to figure this out first hand :)
  33. swtster

    swtster ICO, Class of 2016

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    Also keep in mind of the 40 grads from the University of Montreal each year. Not all of them stay and work in Quebec.

    Sent from my E15i using Tapatalk
  34. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    Trueee.

    By the way, would anyone have done pharmacy over optometry? Any recent pharm grads that can provide feedback?
  35. janedoe88

    janedoe88

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    There is a pharm forum you should post this on. Everyone on here will tell you that with a 3.9 GPA you should go to med school because people always need medical doctors, unlike other fields where there is an oversupply and you may not be able to find a job.
  36. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    Story of my life. I would be willing to do med school if it didnt include so many dissections and dealing with bodily fluids. I doubt theres really any way to get over that, is there?
  37. Jason K

    Jason K

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    Trouble dealing with body fluids and dissections is absolutely not a reason to choose optometry over medicine. You're talking about a career which you'll be doing for the next 30, maybe even 40 years or more. If the only reason you are looking at optometry over medicine is because you're afraid of getting some cootie juices on your hands during lab (which won't happen - you can wear gloves, masks, and gowns during dissections), you're going to be banging your head into the nearest wall when you realize what you traded it in for. Optometry is absolutely NOT a substitute for an MD/DO, whether it's due to grades, poor test scores, lack of motivation, fear of body fluids (which you'll encounter plenty of in optometry, by they way), or a host of other reasons.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  38. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    I agree with Jason on this one. When our professor started showing us slides of different diseases of the eyes with eyelids turning outside in (entropion) and videos of cataract surgery. Some of the girls in our class really got a dose of reality. You want to be a doctor then you have to deal with nasty stuff from time to time. I guess pharmacy is the cleanest out of the health professions.
  39. thecgrblue

    thecgrblue Enjoyin' the journey

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    Yes there is, get exposed to it. Do you really think that all doctors, dentists, optometrists, etc. are naturally more able to handle it than anyone else?

    If it is what you want to do you take it as is and get used to it in whatever way you manage.
  40. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    Or better yet if you don't want any nasty stuff, you can probably get into any PhD. program with those grades. You would get paid like 30k or something a year to study and when you come out you don't have $200k worth of unsubsidized loans accruing at a 6.8% basis continuously which means you'll probably have to pay back around $400k. And a PhD.'s salary ~80k isn't that much off from an OD's ~95k.
  41. bobbio

    bobbio Lurker

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    I think you misunderstood what Jason wrote in his post - he wasn't implying that optometry isn't for the faint of heart. I believe he was stating that optometry isn't a substitute for a person that has ambitions to be a medical doctor, which is probably true because an overwhelming majority of us will be performing routine eye exams and refractions instead of medical procedures or treating/managing ocular diseases.
    I've read many times on this forum where a person could have gone to medical school but chose the path of optometry instead (perhaps similar to cuteeenerd and his/her inability to deal with bodyily fluids), and now they wish they would have gone to medical school instead because optometry isn't as "medical" as they thought it was.
    So to the OP, if you have an interest in becoming a physician, then I would certainly do more research before diving head-first into optometry or pharmacy because neither may be what you're looking for in a career.
  42. xmattODx

    xmattODx Senior Member

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    Being accepted to a PhD program requires significantly more than good grades. One would need to have a general area of study to apply to. And have an area of research that they are interested and knowledgeable in so that they could write a good letter of intent. Furthermore, they would generally need to show aptitude in research via publications/posters.

    They would then need to find a prof willing and able to supervise their research interest.

    And even with all of the above funding is not guaranteed.
  43. Jason K

    Jason K

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    Yup...dead on.
  44. Visionary

    Visionary Medical Retinologist

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    Furthermore, the training is vastly different. Having done both, I can vouch for that. PhD training relies much more on internal motivation. Even with an adviser, you usually have to come up with your own research topics and set your own goals/deadlines. I freely admit that graduate school was where I really learned to think. Medical school was very cookie cutter--just a matter of absorbing massive amounts of information and regurgitating it on tests or in clinical situations. Fact is that most of medicine is pattern recognition predicated on that massive information base.
  45. Meibomian SxN

    Meibomian SxN

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    Well and articulately said. :thumbup:


    People should remember this (Shnurek's) point. The OD degree is not $200k, its $200k + interest = $400k in 30yrs! So in actuality, you're investing half a million for this degree. :eek:

    Sorry to add insult to injury.... :scared:
  46. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

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    I don't think I would be willing to do a PhD, as said above it requires a lot of internal motivation and I don't believe I have it in me to keep going, especially since I cant find anything I'm really really passionate about.

    Ever since people keep asking me why I do not want to do med school, I guess it isn't only about the dissections that scare me (even though I love learning about that stuff from a book), but also the fact how competitive it is. I've heard how people with 4.0 gpa's do not get into med school here and then leave to go to UK or the states. I don't think I would be willing to do that, tuition here is around 20grand a year and as an international student, it easily doubles. Do you guys think it would be worth it to spend those extra years and double the tuition to do medicine over optometry or pharmacy? I mean even docs say their job gets boring at some time. I'm leaning more toward optometry atm as it seems like would be more chances of success at that over pharmacy for opening up a private business.

    For optometry/pharmacy degrees the loan shouldn't be 200K, its approximately 13K for tuition a year. So with living/books/supplies/ect, you could round it to 25K and total of 100K max for 4 years, no?
  47. thecgrblue

    thecgrblue Enjoyin' the journey

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    First I'm going to address what you said:

    1) Sure students with a 4.0 may not get in. They probably don't have a soul or any ounce of social ability. There are also students with 3.0 that get in. Anecdotal evidence is...anecdotal.

    2) Where on earth do you come up with what tuition will be? The only place you will find close to $13k OD tuition is if you are a TX resident at U of Houston and even then it would be $20k/year. I was choosing between $26k @ SCO and $32k at PUCO. $150k-200k is quite a spot-on estimate for someone who borrows all needed funds.

    Second, I'm going to give you a bit of a 'come to Jesus' talk. Take it for what you want in the end I couldn't care for a second what you choose. *clears throat*

    I'm sorry, but it sounds like you have NO CLUE you want (I was somewhat in your shoes a few months ago) or any truthful knowledge of the options. I'll make it easy, IMO, it doesn't sound like medicine is an option at all for you. If you are swayed so easily by anecdotal thoughts, hearsay, and pretty much any iota of evidence you will probably not be happy in 1) med school and certainly not residency. Excuse the giant piece of melodramatic cheese, but if you cannot imagine yourself being happy in anything other than medicine then you know what to do. If you can be happy as an OD or PharmD...then go for it.

    After 2 months of sleepless nights I turned down 2 OD acceptances and decided on medicine. It will put me 5-8 years behind what I would be if I started with my class of 2015 OD acceptance, but I realized my heart was not in it.

    I'm hoping to live a long time and I realized I'll be damned if take the fast track to my career over the route that I crave. If I die young...then it didn't really matter either way.

    I wish you luck. Whatever you choose, just do it as well as you can.
  48. Daylooo

    Daylooo

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    33
    Status:
    Optometry Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    Waterloo.
  49. cuteeenerd

    cuteeenerd

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2012
    Messages:
    45
    Status:
    Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
    I don't think its possible to get into any med school in Canada with a 3.0, most schools require a 3.6. And for tutition, it is only around 13K at Waterloo (It says so on their site), and then then there is possibiliy of getting government grants and stuff.

    Truthfully, as I`ve said before I am pretty confused atm and I had crossed medicine off my list a long time ago for various reasons. I always imagined myself in something less stressful than being a doctor, but lately when I ask anyone for advice is they ask me why don`t you want to do medicine? Almost as if other people are more confident in my chances of getting in and being a good doctor than myself. I've never been passionate to volunteer at a hospital or old care center like other students are, which makes me think I will probably be happier doing something other than medicine.

    I feel like pharm and OD suit my personality that best, I'm just worried about how their future looks like.

  50. swtster

    swtster ICO, Class of 2016

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    60
    Status:
    Optometry Student
    +1. If you missed it, OP explained that she is unwilling to relocate too far away from the GTA for school. She is hoping to stay in Canada for optometry/pharmacy. Her numbers are accurate.

    In Canada, I think optometry > pharmacy (imo). But I'll get back to you when my friends are done exams.

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