ted

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Anybody got stats on the attrition rates for optometry schools? I'm interested in knowing these stats for the two Canadian schools as well.

Also, is it true that a new applicant cannot enter the second year of an optometry program even though he/she had completed 80-90% of the courses for the first year already?
 

UWSO2003

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Let's see if I can help Ted.

My class will be the first to graduate under the revised curriculum.

The class of 2002 unfortunately has lost about 15% of their class. I believe they lost 4 after year I, 3 after year II, and 2 after year III.

My class has lost 5% thus far. And technically, only 1 person was forced out of my class. One person, who was a pharmacist decided this was not for her after the first week of school. The other was pregnant and left to have her baby.

The class of 2004 ... well ... They lost 3 after term 1, year I, and lost 2 more after year I.

If you would like more info on Waterloo, please feel free to ask. There are A LOT of misconceptions out there, and it is VERY possibly to get accepted.
 

ted

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Hey Fred,

Thanks for the stats. It would be great if you can put some information regarding how one can go about improving their application to UW.

Also, just to make sure, UM's optometry program is in French, correct?
 
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UWSO2003

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Hi Ted,

Like all Optometry schools in North America, UW has in recent years seen a dramatic decrease in applications. My class (2003) had 200 applications, the class of 2004 had 90, and the class of 2005 had about 110.

If you work that out for 60 available spots, the odds of getting in are better than 1:2. When you apply, the admin. touts a highly competitive applicant pool, numbering about 340 ... one thing you must learn quickly is that the admin. does not always tell you the truth.

Here's what you need to be guaranteed acceptance:

1) GPA of 3.7+
2) OAT Scores of 320+
3) Experience working for/ volunteering for an OD
4) All the Pre-req's

BUT, in all honestly, many people get in with much less.

The "skinny" is that it is very possible to get in with a GPA of 3.4+, and OAT scores of under 320. You really do need to have some experience with an OD or an ophthalmologist.

Also, starting next year (class of 2006), they will increase enrollment by 5 to 65. They are hoping to attract more applicants by starting to recruit ... historically UW has never activly recruited and sat on it's laurels for recruiting. They are also hoping that many of the canadians who elect to go down to the US for Opt school will chose to apply to UW instead.

Before the decrease in number of applicants, there was a rumour that it was near impossible to get in if you didn't have a 90+ average .... key word is rumour. Unfortunitely, many people, especially from out west stopped applying, and elected to go to US schools because it's easier to get into US schools (no offense to anyone).

Now, many Canadians apply to US schools because of the simple fact that they feel the US schools are better than UW. In many respects, I can't argue. The clinical experience is quite lacking at the school, and there is still a lot of "fluff" in the curriculum ... and you will meet some of the facilty you will wonder how the school hired them as educators. But, I have no doubt that every school has these problems.

The mistake I made was to not fully explore all the options in the US. Granted, you will only spent around $40K (at most) CND for your education, but UW is very much more frills.

Don't get me wrong, UW is an excellent school. Most graduates that elect to write the US boards pass (I think the average is 97%+ pass). The percentage that pass the Canadian boards is slightly less.

I don't know too much about UM. They also have a new curriculum like UW, but the program there consists of 5 years (because I believe you can get in from High School/CJEP?)Also, you will be taught in french/quebecois.

There's still so much more info, but I have no idea where to being. So if you have any other questions .. please feel free to ask! :)
 

ted

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Thanks again, Fred!

From what you're saying, the clinical part of the program is not up to par. I would imagine that to be quite a serious problem!

Actually, I think one of the reasons why US schools have been successful with Canadian applicants is that they actively recruit at Canadian universities. If you had asked the average university student which universities in Canada have an optometry program, I am sure that he/she cannot tell you.

As for volunteering/working for OD/ophthalmologist, is there a guideline as to how many hours are required? I mean, volunteering is great, but one still needs to maintain a balanced lifestyle (work hard, play hard, volunteer hard)?
 

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Hi Ted,

I'll answer the last part of your question first. There really isn't any set period that the school looks for, they just want to make sure that you know what the profession is about, and you know what you're getting into. If you read up on the issues facing the profession in Canada, and in Ontario specifically, it'll go a long way in your interview.

As far as the clinical aspect of UW, you must realise that the University is situated in a Univeristy Town, where the total population on the tri-cities area (KW + Cambridge) is 200,000. So you definitely won't get to see the same amount of patietns you would if you were at SUNY.

Unlike most US schools, you're first clinical experience is pretty late in your optometric curriculim. They send you down to the clinic in third year (which teaching you all the techniques in the first two years). I'm currently only seeing 3 patients every OTHER week, and have 1.5 days in the Ocular Health Clinic and 1.5 days in the dispensary in thie first term of year III. This increases next term to about 4 patients every OTHER week, and more time in OH and DS. The most number of patients you will see is 6 a day here.

To get more patient exposure, and TPA education, you are sent down to the US for a 4 month rotation. This is usually a private clinic run by an OD/MD which deals mainly in ocular pathology.

Fourth year is all clinic. There's the 4 month US term, a 6 week term in Canada where you work for a private practice (they call it the Primary Care and Practice Management rotation), and the rest of the time you're rotating through the school's different clinics (CL, OH, DS, PC, LV, BV, PEDS).

So when you graduate, you are prepared .. don't get me wrong on that point, but you don't get to see as much as some of the US students. That's why you want to take advantage of every opportunity you get when you're on your rotations to see something new. It's fine and easy to always take the glaucoma work-ups, or routine eye exams ... but finding that unique case is what you'll need to do in order to feel confident when you graduate.

Case in point, a patient came in with Bell's Palsy, bilateral keratoconus (corrected with specs only because he didn't like CL's), asthma, joint pain. Sounds like a handful, especially when it was my first day in Ocular Health. Well the fourth year walked me through it .. and you know what, all you do with a Bell's Palsy pt. is to ensure that the ocular surfaces don't dry out .... ie. give "tears".

Hope this helps. Good luck with your applications, and feel free to ask me any questions .. I'll try to help!
 

ted

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Thanks for the heads up!

What you've just mentioned was for the "new" curriculum, right? Also, do you find opt. school hard vs. pre-opt. at UW or other undergrad science program at other univerisities?
 

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Hey Ted,

What I wrote was for the new curriculum. Looking at MikeOD2Be's posts, it appears that ICO gives about the same clinical exposure to UW. He has 2 blocks of 4 hours a week in year III; Here at UW you get 1 8.5 hour block a week.

My assumptions were mainly from people like cpw and the recruiters from SUNY. SUNY claims that by the time you graduate, you will have had thousands of patient contacts ..... which I don't doubt too much considering their location. CPW says that Houston let's the first year's into clinic.

All in all, I doubt that one school is considerably better than any other, but keeping that in mind you should chose a school that will be a good fit for you. Spending 4 years at a place you don't like will kill ya!

As far as Opt school goes, it's not considerably harder than any undergrad. programme here in Canada. But then again, I have heard from Canadian expat's that the undergrad in Canada is slightly more difficult than that in the US (please no flames ;) ) That said, my grades have dropped from the 90's down into the 80's .. and occasional 70's and the rare 60's from some rat ba$**** profs :) The main reason to account for this is the sheer volume of work. In undergrad with a full course load I had about 25-30 hours per week with 5 courses and labs. But in first year opt at UW there's about 32-33 hours, on top of any practising .... That's for 8 courses and 7 labs in first term. The exam schedule is brutal .. starting with lab finals in late November ... then you have 1 final every other day for two weeks.

As long as you're undergrad programme was on par with most major Universities, and you have a relatively good memory ... and you do a bit of work in Opt school it shouldn't be a problem to pass. Many of my classmates (who mainly have BioChem degrees) don't have a problems at all.

There's a few good sayings that float around the school C=OD, and six-oh and go! When you graduate, the patient could care less is you have a 70 or 80 average ....

Good luck with things!
 

cpw

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I've definitely heard C=OD floating around school, but 60 is NOT passing for most of our classes. 70 is passing for anything that's a prereq for next semester (most of our classes). We're also in lecture and lab 30 hours plus a week, plus studying. 21 credit hours (six classes and five labs) I have three finals this week.. back to it I go!
 
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