Mar 5, 2010
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I was just admitted to University of Waterloo Optometry 2010 admission. Could Canadian optometrists or optometry students give me some advice?

1) What is the Optometry market really like in Canada? Earnings prospects, market trends, demographics, etc.

2) What is something that you think current 1st year Optometry students should know?

3) What is something that you wish you knew during your 1st year Optometry studies?

4) What are problems in Optometry that you foresee into the next decade? (e.g., oversupply? IOBP? role change? etc.)

I am humbly reaching out for help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 
Last edited:

Eye-Spy

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Oct 3, 2006
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My advice is to not let postings on this board get to you and make you less excited about optometry, or let you think that you won't be able to find a job once you get out.

There are all kinds of horror stories on here about oversupply in Canada (and the US) but just know that you WILL find a job once you get out and IT WILL BE FINE. You may have to start at several different places and work your way into a more ideal situation -- but you'll be ok. Try to stay excited about the profession. :) Congrats on getting in!

Also, relax and have fun this last summer before opt school starts.
 

Dogod

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Jun 30, 2009
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Do your homework. Over the next 4 years talk to OD's in practice, check out different areas and types of practices. The urban areas are incredibly competitive and oversupply is becoming an issue. Look at underserviced areas. Figure out where you want to live and look for an underserviced area within one hour drive of there. Figure out what you want out of the career whether you would be happy in commercial or private.
Hopefully, they give more practice management courses now so you can hit the ground running when you graduate with realistic expectations. You can live well if you do it right, but don't expect to get rich especially right out of school.
 
OP
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Mar 5, 2010
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If I graduate debt-free, how much down-payment would I need to take over a clinic from a retiree in downtown Toronto and hit the ground running?
 

Dogod

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This will affect the rest of Canada.

http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2010HSERV0015-000286.htm


Quote:
The Province is giving six weeks’ notice that effective May 1, 2010, changes will be made to the regulations for opticians and optometrists under the Health Professions Act, including:
· Removal of most of the restrictions that allow only opticians or optometrists, or workers supervised by them, to dispense glasses or contacts.
· Allowing prescriptions issued by medical doctors and optometrists outside of the province to be filled within B.C.
· Allowing people to order glasses or contacts online without having to give the seller a copy of their prescription, sight-test assessment or contact-lens specifications.
· Requiring opticians and optometrists in B.C. to include in a prescription or sight-test assessment the measurement of distance between the client’s pupils, which is required for the proper fitting of glasses.
· Requiring opticians and optometrists in B.C. to give clients, free of charge, a copy of their prescription, sight-test assessment or contact-lens specifications – whether or not it is requested by the client – and also to give a copy, free of charge, to a third-party eyewear seller or other person if requested by the client.
 
OP
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Mar 5, 2010
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Quite frankly I believe that is the way things should be.

1. Regarding dispensary, there should never have been a law dictating who can sell glasses. If I go to a convenience store to buy headphones, I know the phone can work but it probably isn't very good quality. No one has a right to stop someone from ordering low quality lenses that pose a risk to themselves.

2. Regarding optician sight testing, it is the way it should be. Opticians should have the right to give an approximate measurement of your sight without your having to visit a doctor. After all, if all you want is a pair of glasses and you have no concern about the health of your eyes, you have the right to measure it however you like.

So these new regulations are good and they will inevitably be introduced to the rest of Canada. If anything, they're opening up some extremely profitable opportunities for business-oriented optometrists who know what they're doing. Those who live by the books die poor by the books. Those who are incompetent should stay out or roll over and die.

Every single profession has its shortfalls. Name me one profession that doesn't have oversaturation problems or its own industry problems and I will name you a profession that's about to in the future. If anyone doubts that, they're just day dreaming in self-denial.

Dogod: I find it odd that as an optometrist you would go fear-mongering to Optometry students. If you stand above the rest of the sheep crowd and have a view on the issue, why don't you list them?

This will affect the rest of Canada.

http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2010HSERV0015-000286.htm


Quote:
The Province is giving six weeks' notice that effective May 1, 2010, changes will be made to the regulations for opticians and optometrists under the Health Professions Act, including:
· Removal of most of the restrictions that allow only opticians or optometrists, or workers supervised by them, to dispense glasses or contacts.
· Allowing prescriptions issued by medical doctors and optometrists outside of the province to be filled within B.C.
· Allowing people to order glasses or contacts online without having to give the seller a copy of their prescription, sight-test assessment or contact-lens specifications.
· Requiring opticians and optometrists in B.C. to include in a prescription or sight-test assessment the measurement of distance between the client's pupils, which is required for the proper fitting of glasses.
· Requiring opticians and optometrists in B.C. to give clients, free of charge, a copy of their prescription, sight-test assessment or contact-lens specifications – whether or not it is requested by the client – and also to give a copy, free of charge, to a third-party eyewear seller or other person if requested by the client.
 

KHE

Senior Member
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Jun 14, 2005
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Optometrist
So these new regulations are good and they will inevitably be introduced to the rest of Canada. If anything, they're opening up some extremely profitable opportunities for business-oriented optometrists who know what they're doing. Those who live by the books die poor by the books. Those who are incompetent should stay out or roll over and die.

I don't quite get that.

I don't see any opportunity that is "extremely profitable" for "business oriented optometrists" in this scenario besides perhaps trying to open up some eye glass stores with sight testing opticians.

What am I missing here?
 

stonegoat

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I don't quite get that.

I don't see any opportunity that is "extremely profitable" for "business oriented optometrists" in this scenario besides perhaps trying to open up some eye glass stores with sight testing opticians.

What am I missing here?

I agree KHE, there is nothing good about any of the proposed changes. I am certianly not worries about "free sight-testing" by opticians, as that has been a common practice in BC for well over a decade, with no ill effect on optometry. I do think that the internet sale of glasses will become increasingly common over the next few years....not just in Canada, but in the US as well. Optometry has two ways to deal with this.

1) Own a high-end dispensary - that way you won't really be competing with low cost internet sales. My dispensary is very high end, and I am super-busy in a town that has a sight-tester who offers $169 PALs. There are people who place quality over price, and those who place price over quality. Market to the crowd who want premium ophthalmics and you will be successful.

2) Own a non-dispensing practice. In the right location (i.e. rural), and by keeping costs in check, this modality can be extremely lucrative, with fewer headaches.

The group of professionals most at risk from the proposed changes are independent opticians, who often market to the low-cost demographic. They will be directly competing with internet sales and will not win.

Anyway, no point in burrying your head in the sand, and don't try and compete with internet "dispensaries" were the glasses are made in Pakistan (true) where they pay their labour $1.00/day.
 

physicslover

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Dec 20, 2009
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Pre-Optometry
Wouldn't optician testing not motivate people with relatively stable prescriptions and in general good health not to go to optometrists? Most young people are relatively unconcerned with their eye health and just want that prescription to get the contacts/glasses. As an optometrist, how would you guys describe the essential differences between optician testing and optometrist, to educate/motivate a 22 year old with a stable prescription/ good previous health?
 

Meibomian SxN

10+ Year Member
Feb 2, 2008
706
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Optometrist
Wouldn't optician testing not motivate people with relatively stable prescriptions and in general good health not to go to optometrists? Most young people are relatively unconcerned with their eye health and just want that prescription to get the contacts/glasses. As an optometrist, how would you guys describe the essential differences between optician testing and optometrist, to educate/motivate a 22 year old with a stable prescription/ good previous health?
Huh? Young people who are "unconcerned" with their eye health? NOt sure why you would say that because the patients I see actually ARE concerned. They just let me the eye doctor take care of that for them.

Opticians are not trained to examine the eyes. Vision is just one aspect of the eye which can NOT be separated from the health. I have seen undiagnosed diabetics with CSDME present with 20/20 vision, uncontrolled HTN patient with bilateral swollen nerves, etc. The list can go on and on.

I feel sorry for any ODs in B.C.; I hope they can have those rules changed.
 
Sep 30, 2009
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Medical Student
Huh? Young people who are "unconcerned" with their eye health? NOt sure why you would say that because the patients I see actually ARE concerned. They just let me the eye doctor take care of that for them.

Opticians are not trained to examine the eyes. Vision is just one aspect of the eye which can NOT be separated from the health. I have seen undiagnosed diabetics with CSDME present with 20/20 vision, uncontrolled HTN patient with bilateral swollen nerves, etc. The list can go on and on.

I feel sorry for any ODs in B.C.; I hope they can have those rules changed.
Huh? Since young people are so concerned with their eye health you should not be too worried about the BC legislation. Pretty sure ppl can tell the difference between an optician doing a sight test so that they can get a new pair of glasses vs an optometrist doing a full exam. Maybe if more optometrists actually discuss the results of the exam with the patient instead of just pushing them towards the dispensary to purchase $600 glasses it will be even easier to tell the difference! :D
 

socal2014

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Jan 29, 2010
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waterloo is the only school in canada i believe so why would there be saturation issues?
 

Dogod

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Jun 30, 2009
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Optometrist
Imminent Oversupply in Canada - page 1 of ODWire thread (autumn 2009)
Re-post of this from another SDN thread:

Imminent Oversupply in Canada? How many returning Canadians in US schools?
This is the first year Amercian-educated OD's surpass Canadian (see CSAO stats below), and with 3 or 4 new American optometry schools opening this may be the new trend. If these current trends continue, with an anticipated increase in IOBP grads (see data below), the number of OD's produced annually has essentially more than tripled since I graduated in 1992 when UW graduated only 60/yr. As well, the trend when I was in school was that over half the UW grads remained in Ontario, primarily in urban areas such as the GTA. With the IOBP we may also see Canadians going abroad, not just to the USA, for their education and returning.

Waterloo gradually increased their class size from 60 to 90 starting in 2004. Thus, with current trends it is plausible that the number of annual grads will be roughly:
90 UW + 90 USA + 90 IOBP = 270 grads annually.

The Canadian population has not tripled in that time nor has the need for optometrist's services either. And if the same trend continues from my days at UW, most new grads remain in Ontario, primarily in urban areas such as GTA. Foreign family doctors on the other hand are limited to practice only in undersupplied areas; unfortunately, this logical, proactive approach is not taken by optometry.

These numbers do not account for the OD grads from Montreal, who may be able to transfer to other provinces with new legislation (AIT). Nor does it account for the increasing number of refracting MD's, and non-surgical ophthalmologists working commercial locations. And in British Columbia, opticians are allowed to refract. Looking at the UW want ads, an overwhelming majority of positions are for commercial locations as more chains invade urban areas of Ontario with impending changes in the conflict of interest regulations (e.g.the latest Lenscrafters that opened doesn't even have a separate entrance).

There is even an interesting ad for a placement agency "Optometrist Network;" with guaranteed hours and wage for your "shift" (see below). Does this sort of placement agency exist in the USA as well? Are there already enough OD's unable to find positions to support this type of agency?

Just because there is an increase in commercial opportunities does not reflect an increased need in optometric services in the population. It has more to do with an increase in commercial locations with changes to the regulations, expansion of big box retailers such as Walmart, and more corporate retailers such as grocery stores entering the optical market. The IOBP certainly cannot argue that it was created to service an OD undersupply. And generally OD's don't retire; they work at least PT until they die
. If these new grad numbers continue, many OD's, especially new grads, will be working PT.


A manpower study is necessary.

From
http://www.hr.uwaterloo.ca/.jd/00005201.html posted on this site May 2009 an online job description of the current staff support position for IOBP Administrative Coordinator IOBP:
Statistical Data
Number of applicants/inquiries 1,000 per yr
Number of students 50 to 100 per year
Operating budget ~$1M per year
Purchases signing authority unlimited
Bridging 1 (6wks) is offered twice a year; Bridging 2 annually. So the IOBP in its current state can produce 50 to 100 new optometrists per year.


From the last CSAO results: What is surprising is the number of Canadians returning from US schools.
http://www.ceo-eco.org/2008%20CSAO%2...y%20Report.pdf
· Overall, the 215 new candidates for 2008 was a significant increase from 2007 when 170 new candidates participated in the exam process.
· A total of 83 (38.6%) Canadian educated, 97 (45.1%) American educated and 35 (16.3%) Internationally educated candidates participated in the 2008 administrations. In comparison to 2007, the participation rate of international candidates in 2008 saw the largest increase. In the previous year 12 (7.1%) candidates participated while 2008 saw 35 (16.3%) internationals sit the examinations.
· Results for the three groups were consistent with previous administrations with Canadian candidates having the strongest performance and International candidates reflecting the weakest performance. However, given the relatively small sample size for the International candidates these results must be interpreted cautiously. [???]
· While the performance of North America candidates was comparable, International candidates encountered greater challenges in all areas and particularly in Optometric Knowledge and Clinical Judgment, for the written components and Sessions 1 and 3 for the clinical skill
· First time pass rates:
1. Canadians 99%
2. US 90%
3. Internationals 43% [And this is AFTER completing the IOBP course. How many times do they get to re-write CSAO - and just the sections they fail?]
[Until a few years ago the first pass rate for UW students was only 70%. Has the test changed to accomodate foreign optometrists?]

From: http://www.optometry.uwaterloo.ca/current/jobpost.html

May - Ontario

The Ontario Optometrist Network is looking for associates to fill several locations all across Ontario. Financial terms depend on the specific location but, generally, associate splits are between 70-80%. Shifts vary from 5 hrs to 9 hrs. Typically, $600 to $1 000 will be the guaranteed take home MINIMUM for each shift. You'll also be compensated for mileage/accommodation depending on the distance. Email Shelly at Ontario_O[email protected] for available locations and for more information
 
Nov 21, 2010
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Hello rte100, May be I can not help you in this regarding because I not familiar with these topics specially but I only came to you something interesting about Canada. I would like to tell you that if you are deciding to go Canada for job purposes or for education then it will be best place for you. I also have been relocated at Fort Mcmurray sometimes before and I am really very excited to live and work in this city.
 

socal2014

Removed
Jan 29, 2010
295
0
0
Status
Imminent Oversupply in Canada - page 1 of ODWire thread (autumn 2009)
Re-post of this from another SDN thread:

Imminent Oversupply in Canada? How many returning Canadians in US schools?
This is the first year Amercian-educated OD's surpass Canadian (see CSAO stats below), and with 3 or 4 new American optometry schools opening this may be the new trend. If these current trends continue, with an anticipated increase in IOBP grads (see data below), the number of OD's produced annually has essentially more than tripled since I graduated in 1992 when UW graduated only 60/yr. As well, the trend when I was in school was that over half the UW grads remained in Ontario, primarily in urban areas such as the GTA. With the IOBP we may also see Canadians going abroad, not just to the USA, for their education and returning.

Waterloo gradually increased their class size from 60 to 90 starting in 2004. Thus, with current trends it is plausible that the number of annual grads will be roughly:
90 UW + 90 USA + 90 IOBP = 270 grads annually.

The Canadian population has not tripled in that time nor has the need for optometrist's services either. And if the same trend continues from my days at UW, most new grads remain in Ontario, primarily in urban areas such as GTA. Foreign family doctors on the other hand are limited to practice only in undersupplied areas; unfortunately, this logical, proactive approach is not taken by optometry.

These numbers do not account for the OD grads from Montreal, who may be able to transfer to other provinces with new legislation (AIT). Nor does it account for the increasing number of refracting MD's, and non-surgical ophthalmologists working commercial locations. And in British Columbia, opticians are allowed to refract. Looking at the UW want ads, an overwhelming majority of positions are for commercial locations as more chains invade urban areas of Ontario with impending changes in the conflict of interest regulations (e.g.the latest Lenscrafters that opened doesn't even have a separate entrance).

There is even an interesting ad for a placement agency "Optometrist Network;" with guaranteed hours and wage for your "shift" (see below). Does this sort of placement agency exist in the USA as well? Are there already enough OD's unable to find positions to support this type of agency?

Just because there is an increase in commercial opportunities does not reflect an increased need in optometric services in the population. It has more to do with an increase in commercial locations with changes to the regulations, expansion of big box retailers such as Walmart, and more corporate retailers such as grocery stores entering the optical market. The IOBP certainly cannot argue that it was created to service an OD undersupply. And generally OD's don't retire; they work at least PT until they die
. If these new grad numbers continue, many OD's, especially new grads, will be working PT.


A manpower study is necessary.

From
http://www.hr.uwaterloo.ca/.jd/00005201.html posted on this site May 2009 an online job description of the current staff support position for IOBP Administrative Coordinator IOBP:
Statistical Data
Number of applicants/inquiries 1,000 per yr
Number of students 50 to 100 per year
Operating budget ~$1M per year
Purchases signing authority unlimited
Bridging 1 (6wks) is offered twice a year; Bridging 2 annually. So the IOBP in its current state can produce 50 to 100 new optometrists per year.


From the last CSAO results: What is surprising is the number of Canadians returning from US schools.
http://www.ceo-eco.org/2008 CSAO%2...y Report.pdf
· Overall, the 215 new candidates for 2008 was a significant increase from 2007 when 170 new candidates participated in the exam process.
· A total of 83 (38.6%) Canadian educated, 97 (45.1%) American educated and 35 (16.3%) Internationally educated candidates participated in the 2008 administrations. In comparison to 2007, the participation rate of international candidates in 2008 saw the largest increase. In the previous year 12 (7.1%) candidates participated while 2008 saw 35 (16.3%) internationals sit the examinations.
· Results for the three groups were consistent with previous administrations with Canadian candidates having the strongest performance and International candidates reflecting the weakest performance. However, given the relatively small sample size for the International candidates these results must be interpreted cautiously. [???]
· While the performance of North America candidates was comparable, International candidates encountered greater challenges in all areas and particularly in Optometric Knowledge and Clinical Judgment, for the written components and Sessions 1 and 3 for the clinical skill
· First time pass rates:
1. Canadians 99%
2. US 90%
3. Internationals 43% [And this is AFTER completing the IOBP course. How many times do they get to re-write CSAO - and just the sections they fail?]
[Until a few years ago the first pass rate for UW students was only 70%. Has the test changed to accomodate foreign optometrists?]

From: http://www.optometry.uwaterloo.ca/current/jobpost.html

May - Ontario

The Ontario Optometrist Network is looking for associates to fill several locations all across Ontario. Financial terms depend on the specific location but, generally, associate splits are between 70-80%. Shifts vary from 5 hrs to 9 hrs. Typically, $600 to $1 000 will be the guaranteed take home MINIMUM for each shift. You’ll also be compensated for mileage/accommodation depending on the distance. Email Shelly at Ontario_O[email protected] for available locations and for more information
Canada is a joke, to be honest. You don't see the states doing this...
 

Dogod

7+ Year Member
Jun 30, 2009
40
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141
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Optometrist
I would be pissed if I was a UW student to find out there was an 8wk program for any foreigner calling themselves an eye doctor. The recent class of IOBP grads is rumoured to contain a bunch of opportunistic Canadian students who have gone to the UK for the 3yr program (which is cheaper than 1 yr of US education) optometry program eligible to enter out of high school. They have returned for the 8 wk bridging program. UW students have to do 3 yrs of university pre-opt before even getting into the School of Optometry.

The same UW administration has been supporting and defending the IOBP program in the face of recent opposition from the Ontario Association of Optometrists.
 

physicslover

7+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2009
336
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141
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Pre-Optometry
3 years of Uk is cheaper than one year US? that sounds very attractive financially... hmm lol. I agree UW has made some very strange decisions in the way it accept foreign trained optometrists with open arms, yet are so reluctant to let in more Canadian students into their schools. It's not really fair and is benefiting foreign trained optometrists. I don't see why I should waste money going to the U.S if I can just get into the UK and do the 8 week training program.