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optometry vs. pharmacy

Discussion in 'Optometry' started by RLK, May 23, 2005.

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  1. RLK

    RLK Senior Member

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    I'm still considering optometry and pharmacy, but there's one thing that I really like about optometry that pharmacy can offer but usually doesn't. As an optometrist, eventually I would probably be able to have my own practice and be my own boss. It seems anymore that most pharmacists work for a retail chain and don't own their own pharmacy. Even if I could make more money working for someone else, there's just something really attractive about having my own practice and being my own boss.

    Does or did anyone else think of that when they were deciding a career to pursue?
  2. cdea

    cdea Member

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    I am changing from IT to Optometry because i want to be my own boss. plus other stuff like less stress, more family time etc. hopefully money will also come along but if i can make 60 - 75k max i will be happy.
  3. RLK

    RLK Senior Member

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    We have something in common. I'm changing from IT also to Optometry (hopefully). I was a programmer/analyst for 3 years.
  4. organichemistry

    organichemistry *********

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    i really wouldn't go into optometry if you are looking to be your own boss. yes, you can... but optometry is similar to pharmacy in the sense that retail chains are taking over.

    it is VERY difficult for optometrists to start their own practices and make 6 figures. I know you said 60-75k... which is a lot more reasonable... but keep in mind you will more than likely be paying $10,000 a year in student debt! so, really, after taxes your take home could very well be in the high 30s to low 50s.

    with all the education and time and money that goes into it, that seems vastly unrewarding.

    but the bottom line is pick a career you want to go into. i definitely advise talking to and shadowing young optometrists. don't listen to what the older generation of optometrists has to say as far as money is concerned, and the chains. most are out of touch with the amount of debt new graduates face and the way wal-marts and chains have taken over.

    good luck!
  5. r_salis

    r_salis SDN Supa-Mod Emmetrope Moderator Emeritus

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    I don't think OrganicChemistry was saying anything disrespectful about the profession. Please refrain from making personal attacks on other SDNers.
  6. JennyJet

    JennyJet Member

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    Both optometry and pharmacy are excellent careers. Personally I chose optometry for the same reasons as cdea and RLK. I am a former software engineer, and I feel that the transition into optometry is not so drastic. Optometry now uses many technological advances during the exam, so I still get to be a tech geek! Also, being your own boss has always been a dream of mine. I got real tired of corporate horse puckey.

    My friend is going into pharmacy school, and she wants to practice on her own as well. However, she said she'll have to go to rural places or possibly work for a small-town feel kind of pharmacy. (There's Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley, CA.) I'm sure it will be similar for optometry. Metropolitan areas may already be saturated with private practice optometrists, so you'll have to look towards more "rural" areas.

    And ppa93, I know this board is for opinions and everyone has a right to their own opinion. But attacking other SDNers and making sarcastic remarks about IT people "taking over" optometry is just very unprofessional. Remember, the optometry field is pretty close knit, and you may cross paths with people you insult on this board.
  7. FutureIrishOD

    FutureIrishOD Member

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    I have also switched from pharmacy to optometry. If you want to open your own pharmacy, you will have to either practice in a rural area or do compounding pharmacy. You could also become a decentralized pharmacists in hospital, which allows more one-on-one interactions, but you still have to get everything approved by a doctor (and toes often get stepped on). However, you do have a better chance making more money owning your own optometry office, than running your own pharmacy. Most independent pharmacists that I know also have to run a medical supply store to stay afloat. But that could also be because Lubbock is getting to large (~200,000) to support privately owned pharmacies). But I personally switched to optometry because you get more one-on-one patient interactions, better hours, more freedom in how you run your practice, and because I am fascinated by the eyes. I also like the idea of running my own practice or at least becoming a partner. I think a lot of running a successful optometry office is to make sure you have good business sense and knowledge about running a small business (which no matter what kinda of small business takes alot of work). All of the optometrists I have talked to, who own their own practice, suggests that I should start a group practice with about 3 other optometrists, that way you can share the costs, work load(business paper work), etc. I think that is my goal because there seems to be a lot of benefits from having partners.
  8. cdea

    cdea Member

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    I think IT people leave not because of the work but the freakin' corporate office and the dependancy it has on your job. A few times we had to stay 24 hours to get the network back up. I don't believe in working over 8 hours a day unless it is for yourself building up something meaningful. not for someone else who already gets paid an enourmous salary. life is way to short for that. i would start a group practice so you can hopefully rotate weekends or something like that.
  9. QuietGuy

    QuietGuy SDN Angel

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    What's going to happen to optometry when scientists finally perfect laser surgery?
  10. dragon1761

    dragon1761 Member

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    you cant really perfect something to a point where doctor's will guarantee 100% success. Humans arent perfect. Also, many people are afraid of surgery of any type. so there would always be optometrist around. There is more to optometry than prescribing glasses, such as visual therapy, and etc. hope that answered your question. Feel free to give me feedbacks so i can learn more about this porfesion.
  11. CircleTheDrain

    CircleTheDrain Member

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    Then optometrists will be put out of business and optometry and opthamology will get in a major turf war over who will do the laser surgery! :cool:
  12. toofache32

    toofache32

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    What's IT stand for?
  13. r_salis

    r_salis SDN Supa-Mod Emmetrope Moderator Emeritus

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    Information Techology = IT
  14. toofache32

    toofache32

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    Is that different from "Computer Science"?
  15. r_salis

    r_salis SDN Supa-Mod Emmetrope Moderator Emeritus

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    Same thing, pretty much. Computer Science is what you major in at college, and IT is the general field you end up working in. You don't necessarily have to be a comp sci major to do IT work, though -- you can be an analyst, tech writer, project manager, etc. (or a programmer) without a comp sci major.
  16. toofache32

    toofache32

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    That makes sense. I feel like an old fart sometimes when it comes to the computer world. When I was a senior in college, this crazy new thing came out called "the internet" and "email". Who would've known...
  17. awawaw

    awawaw New Member

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    Hi guys,

    Can optometrists perform laser surgery? Or is that opthamologists' turf only?
  18. scraders

    scraders Senior Member

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    mainly ophthalmologists perform laser surgery...although some optometrists in certain states can do limited laser surgery as well...
  19. Tom_Stickel

    Tom_Stickel Member

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    Awawaw,

    Before the ophtho residents jump in vociferously, ophthalmologists do 99.99% of all laser eye surgery in the U.S. And it's only one state, Oklahoma, in which optometrists can do laser surgery. And the laser surgery they can do is NOT the LASIK that you're probably thinking of. The laser surgery the Oklahoma ODs can do are limited to (to simplify it greatly) a post-cataract mop-up procedure , a not-widely-used glaucoma laser with limited efficacy, and a somewhat rarely used emergency glaucoma procedure.

    Recently, a limited laser surgery bill was defeated in New Mexico, so don't count on optometry's scope of laser surgery expanding any time soon.

    Tom Stickel
  20. Diana_M

    Diana_M New Member

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    "But I personally switched to optometry because you get more one-on-one patient interactions, better hours, more freedom in how you run your practice, and because I am fascinated by the eyes"

    I really like the way you think, about the prepectives of optometry. Well i am so confused about what to really do, either pharmacy, optometry or may be even med school. How do I make up my mind. How did You?
  21. DocOCT

    DocOCT New Member

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    Visit a thread called "If you could, would you do it all over again?"

    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=195799

    Over 600 posts from everyone about med careers.

    Not sure about pharm.
  22. rkl_OD2be

    rkl_OD2be UMSL class of 2010

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    There was an "IT to Medical School" type thread on the nontrad forum that had page after page of IT people going from IT careers to medical school. I didn't realize there were so many others like me who decided that Optometry would be a more fulfilling career than IT.

    I currently work for a large telecommunications company in the Kansas City area. Initially, I wrote custom data warehousing software for the finance team. When that job was sent to India, I moved into a role setting up and supporting test environments. In a few short months, at the end of July, I get to say "good-bye" to that career and start school to be an Optometrist.

    I remember wanting to be an optometrist since my first visit to the eye doctor as a young child. I've always been fascinated by optics, and the physics behind our sight, and our ability to correct vision, etc. I know that, for me, I've made the right choice. I'm looking forward to serving my community.
  23. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!! Moderator Emeritus

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    Nope.

    Every OD I've talked to has seen no decrease in business after the invention of LASIK and/or PRK. There might have been a few years ago when LASIK was brand new and for two or three years everyone was running out to get it. LASIK interest has leveled off now from what I can tell with my patients.
  24. KHE

    KHE Senior Member SDN Advisor

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    If anything, I have seen more people as laser surgery became more popular because people were coming in to ask about it and/or get it.

    I do not believe laser surgery will have a significant effect on demand for ODs services. I also do not believe that refractive surgery is going to be the future of refractive correction. I beleive the future of refractive correction is going to be contact lenses that are much more biocompatable with human eyes than any of the current materials.

    As we get better at growing corneas in vitro, I believe that future contact lenses will be made out of essentially corneal tissue grown in a lab.
  25. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!! Moderator Emeritus

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    There's also a future in the research of drops that slow the growth of the eye after emmetropization
  26. blazenmadison

    blazenmadison

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    Can one manage their student debt on 75k a year? Plus a family, etc.

    Consider podiatry. They have a 80% acceptance rate.
  27. gsinccom

    gsinccom

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    I personally decided on OD over PharmD (as well as other options). I would like to have my own practice but with all the debt I will incur I believe I will need to work corporate or in an OMD surgery practice for a few years, before I'll be able to venture out "on my own" or with other OD/OMDs to a group setting. Unless of course I have a good private practice buy out opportunity but I've hear those are pretty rare in the OD world:)I am interested from CPW and others how much corporate Docs make. I know corporate PharmDs can count on a salary of $80 to $100K right after graduating and they get benefits too. What about corporate ODs? And, how many days and hours a week do you work as a corporate OD? What kind of time commitment do the corporate chains make you committ to?

    Best wishes to all.
  28. r_salis

    r_salis SDN Supa-Mod Emmetrope Moderator Emeritus

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    Personally, I prefer eyes to feet. :D
  29. scalded

    scalded Member

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    you would pay ~15,000 a year on 120K in loans at 6.5% interest 15 year payback. 60K a year is more than the median 4 person family makes in the united states so I'm sure you could manage.

    Podiatrests make more money no doubt. If you enjoy surgery on feet that's where you should focus.
  30. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!! Moderator Emeritus

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    This depends totally on your contract. I'm not the owning doctor so I'm not held to certain hours or days. But, I do work full time five days a week 10-6.

    My salary is based on a set daily rate plus a set bonus structure which depends totally on how busy we are and how much money Im brining in to the practice.

    It also depends on what city you're in. The daily rate here in parts of Florida (as long as you're not talking Miami/Ft Lauderdale) is WAY higher than the major cities in Texas where I went to OD school.

    And yes, I make a good amount of money. ;)
  31. r_salis

    r_salis SDN Supa-Mod Emmetrope Moderator Emeritus

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    What is the daily rate in FL? In NYC (and around), it's ~$350.
  32. blazenmadison

    blazenmadison

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    Do you think there will be an oversupply of pharmacists? I know of at least two new schools opening up in the fall. (Probably more) It's a field that seems to be hot 'right now', but in 4 or 5 years when those graduates come out, will there be enough Wal-marts and Targets for them?
  33. Hines302

    Hines302 Senior Member

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    I have said this before and I will say this again.... the reason that there is not enough pharmacist today is because 25 years ago, they predicted there would be an oversupply of pharmacist... so they but back funding to pharm programs. One of the things they did not take into consideration was how many women were entering the profession at the time. (women tend to work less hours... and retire at an earlier age)... this trend sounds farmilar.

    While im not saying that the over supply of opts does not exsist... because it obviously does.... you cant predict what will happen 10 years from now... and maybe the problem is not as bad as some make it seem.

    However I still think that steps should be taken to reduce class sizes... just to be on the safe side
  34. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!! Moderator Emeritus

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    In my area it's 400 (plus bonus)
  35. r_salis

    r_salis SDN Supa-Mod Emmetrope Moderator Emeritus

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    Is the bonus based on the number of exams you do, or a cut from dispensing?
  36. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!! Moderator Emeritus

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    It's based on total professional fees brought into the office for the day. (I get nothing for contact lens sales)
  37. drgregory

    drgregory Senior Member

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    if you are planning on working commercial please do not consider optometry. go infect another profession and degrade it so that their services eventually are valued at less than a haircut.
    how can you not see what you will be doing to a profession by working commercial?
  38. xmattODx

    xmattODx Senior Member

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    If you're going to judge me for working commercial please hire me full time at the same pay I can get in commercial. Thanks.
  39. J.opt

    J.opt

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    "infect" and "degrade"? Are you kidding me? You don’t have to insult other people to get your point across, doctor.
  40. nicnicinc

    nicnicinc Member

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    If you mind to tell me how old are you? Actually, I want to be an optometrist. I just wonder am I too late to do so.
  41. rkl_OD2be

    rkl_OD2be UMSL class of 2010

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    I'll be 37 when I enter the Optometry program at UMSL this August. Never once has anyone told me that it's "too late" for me to do so...This is after 13.5 years working in IT as a software engineer/custom software developer.
  42. ckyuen

    ckyuen Senior Member

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    I agree it seems like pharmacist are in short supply almost everywhere. I remember as an intern pharmacy students got 30-35 bucks an hour working at the local pharmacies and they said 50 an hour was the minimum starting with many of them getting closser to 60-70 an hour and this was 5 years ago in fresno. All of the pharmacy students that rotated with us were female asians. It seems like they all mentioned good job when you consider family life, hours etc.
  43. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!! Moderator Emeritus

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    Ditto. I wasn't going to become a martyr and default on my student loans for one day a week in private practice. I needed to eat and pay bills too !! All these docs who moan and complain about new grads working commercial.... are they HIRING the new grads ?? NO !!!
  44. drgregory

    drgregory Senior Member

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    i graduated 2 years ago. worked corporate for 2 months. opened my own practice. i now employ another newly graduated OD. you were saying something about HIRING new grads? i did. i also had the compassion for my own profession (AND NOT TO MENTION AMBITION) to not work corporate. but, if you are happy jockeying refractions, so be it. i just wish you wouldnt have decided on optometry. it just makes it harder for the rest of us in optometry who are trying to earn respect in the medical community. until you have the ambition to start your own practice, buy one, or actively market yourself to find an equally paying position to your little wally world gig, you cannot say that it is impossible to work private.
  45. drgregory

    drgregory Senior Member

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    typical commercial OD.
  46. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!! Moderator Emeritus

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    you can get off your pedestal anytime now. You don't know me.. you don't KNOW what my ambitions are. I never said my job was permanent. I don't work for wally world and won't....

    The patient I educated on his advanced diabetic ret yesterday (complete with bleed and CSME was HAPPY I was his DOCTOR!!) He didn't care that my office happens to be in a Lenscrafters. And, neither did the retinal specialist he's seeing today thanks to my phone call, chat with the specialist and explanation of my patient's ocular disease problems.
  47. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!! Moderator Emeritus

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    never too old if it's what you want to do. There was a guy in my class who graduated at 38, my best friend graduated at 34, I graduated at 30. I know the class underneath me had a guy in his 40s.

    If it's what you REALLY want to do... GO FOR IT !
  48. xmattODx

    xmattODx Senior Member

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    This is interesting. Am I a typical commercial OD? What is a typical commercial OD?

    If a typical commercial OD is one who was unable to find employment for the first two years of his career outside of the commercial market then I am a typical commercial OD.

    If a typical commercial OD is one who was unwilling to open cold because he didn't want to marry himself to a particular community to make that practice work, then I am a typical commercial OD.

    If a typical commercial OD is one who is licensed in two countries and three states then I am a typical commercial OD.

    If a typical commercial OD is one who works commercial so that he can pay his tuition for his new degree then I am a typical commercial OD.

    If a typical commerical OD notes that in his commercial exams he is doing far more than any of the private practices he has filled in at, then I am a typical commerical OD.

    If a typical private practice OD is as condescending and arrogant as you, this profession has bigger problems than oversupply and commerical optometry.
  49. drgregory

    drgregory Senior Member

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    maybe i am wrong. but tell me this - can you set your own fees for service? can you set your own hours? would you be able to convince the retinal surgeon you speak of to come into your office for consults? do you pay a percentage of revenue type rent, or just a flat monthly rent to Lenscrafters?
  50. xmattODx

    xmattODx Senior Member

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    Even worse than being a commercial OD. I am an employed commercial OD! :eek:

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