the3ddy

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Jun 30, 2009
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  1. Pre-Optometry
Hello all, long post ahead, appreciate anyone who reads it all,

I have recently developed an interest in Optometry (for about 3 months or so) and I was wondering if I can get some more advice on my decision in choosing Optometry.

For the past 3 years of my undergrad career, I was set on trying to get into medical school to become a physician of some sort. However, my doubts started to accumulate, plaguing my every thought, and, thus, I was finally was able to let it go. The workload, time required, and stress as a physician is too much. I have a passion for medicine...but it is not the one and only passion I have in life. I also have passions for my hobbies and I am interested in pursuing other things outside of work.

Even with most of my undergrad years almost gone, I believe I still have flexibility in choosing among the other paths including Optometry, Pharmacy, Dentistry, etc. Of these paths, I chose Optometry for several reasons in no particular order (please correct me if any of these are formed on misguided notions):

1. Interest - In my studies as an undergrad, one of the subjects I found appealing to me were the eyes: the way it's setup, how rod and cone cells can give birth to our amazing ability to perceive, how defects can severely alter our perceptions, etc. It wasn't the only topic that fascinated me but it was pretty high on the list.

2. Regular Hours - As an optometrist, I'll be able to work reasonable hours (given that I am not desperate for money atm) and won't have to be on call. I want time to pursue my other hobbies

3. Decent Pay - What I consider a good pay is around $70k-$100k. I want to have financial security to sustain my hobbies and maybe my family.

4. Helping Others - From what I gather, I might not be able to see as many rare cases as I would if I found a specialty in medical school but I believe I would still get to see patients who need help, even if it's just new glasses.

5. Business Aspect - I don't know how feasible it would be to start a private practice nowadays but I do have a passing interest in business-related activities or even transactions. However, it wouldn't mean the end of the world if I can't own my own private practice eventually.

What wouldn't bother me are the repetitive activities (as long as I have a hobby at the time), the debt that I might have (I've been contemplating medical school), the need to garner respect off my career (I've always attempted to garner respect from my personality), and possibly working conditions at corporate (as long as it's not a craphole).

My issues arise from whether these reasons are strong enough to say I should keep myself from pursuing Dentistry, Physician's Assistant, Pharmacy, etc. I have less interest in Dentistry and even less so for Pharmacy, but the pay is definitely better for Dentistry. The pay difference isn't big enough for me to change to Dentistry but I do have other hesitations.

In this forum, I've heard mixed feelings about being an Optometrist (probably due to different practicing conditions from what I gather). I sense that there really is an oversupply of optometrists, not as extreme as some suggest, but there definitely is an oversupply nonetheless. From word of mouth, I heard several recent graduates of Optometry school had trouble in finding jobs. After reading some threads throughout this forum, I assume this is because they are looking for jobs in California? Would it be reasonable for me to believe that I can find a decent job in at least a medium-sized city (doesn't have to be CA)? Basically, my main concern for my future in Optometry is the location of where I will be able to work and whether I can actually find a job.

Given my interests, concerns, and hesitations, what do you guys think about my choice in Optometry? I know it's what I make out of it but I want to gather as much information (including shadowing more optometrists) as I can before I fully commit. Any insightful thoughts, criticisms, corrections are welcome! Thanks.

-the 3ddy
 
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thecgrblue

Enjoyin' the journey
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Jul 6, 2009
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So you ask a ton of questions and I'll try to answer the ones that prompted thoughts for me.

1) Why Optometry? Well, why anything? As I whittled away my choices and weighed variables for careers I came to health care, within that realm I did the whole process again and am choosing Optometry because it just feels right. I have always felt comfortable in the settings and just felt like that is where I should be.

2) As far as choosing between your pay...as five-billion other people will say, if you are doing it for the money and if it is not what you sleep and dream about then find another job. There is an elderly man that is a crossing guard in my town...he probably makes $15/hour, but he LOVES his job and wouldn't change a thing. 70k-100k is good money. If you don't think so...learn to live on less. I'm in undergrad, married, and poor...I would crap my pants to make 25k a year, but I wouldn't have my life be any other way right now.

3) Debt...referring back to your passions. When there is a will...you will find a way. Drive a Ford instead of a Benz for 15 years...join the military, etc. etc.

4) Oversupply could be a possibility for making the job hunt difficult, but I think being stubborn and feeling worth more than you really is the reality. An aside...I know 3 recent dental grads (one graduated 1 year ago, the others just this year) all are unemployed and have only found temp work.

All in all, in my opinion, find and follow your passion. I want to work to live my life, but while I work, I want it to be something that I am just consumed with...I want to be innovative and make a change and I see this happening in my life as an optometrist.
 

KHE

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Jun 14, 2005
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  1. Optometrist
Hello all, long post ahead, appreciate anyone who reads it all,

You need to spend some time with optometrists working in diffent settings talking to them about the career. That's the most important place to start.

Lots of people sort of look to optometry because they want to be a physician but they don't want to deal with all that "stress" or that being a physician is "too hard" or they aren't sure about their grades so they look to optometry as being "good enough."

That's a terrible position to be in. You have to be 100% sure that being an OPTOMETRIST is what you want to do. If you are not, it is a recipe for a miserable career. I know lots of people in this field in exactly that situation.

So start by spending time with optometrists in different modes of practice and discuss the career with them.
 
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OD4eyes

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Jul 31, 2009
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  1. Pre-Optometry
You have to go into the profession whole heartily because you will be faced with many challenges along the way. Optometry is challenging, competitive, expensive but rewarding when you are passionate about it. I have great admiration for optometrists that love their job and their devotion is always reflected in their exams. Optometrists that are not 100% comimitted to the profession is in part what is hurting the profession. Continue to explore and ask questions!
 

the3ddy

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Jun 30, 2009
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  1. Pre-Optometry
2) As far as choosing between your pay...as five-billion other people will say, if you are doing it for the money and if it is not what you sleep and dream about then find another job. There is an elderly man that is a crossing guard in my town...he probably makes $15/hour, but he LOVES his job and wouldn't change a thing. 70k-100k is good money. If you don't think so...learn to live on less. I'm in undergrad, married, and poor...I would crap my pants to make 25k a year, but I wouldn't have my life be any other way right now.

In my post, I said 70k-100k is good money. I never meant to sound like I am in the profession just for the money.

Lots of people sort of look to optometry because they want to be a physician but they don't want to deal with all that "stress" or that being a physician is "too hard" or they aren't sure about their grades so they look to optometry as being "good enough."

To me the stress issue is a matter of degree. From what I've seen after shadowing a number of physicians, and recently, seeing several optometrists, physicians do have a lot more stress on the job overall. I can't say it's for all optometrists because it seems quite diverse, but from what I gather physicians on the whole have it much worse.

You have to go into the profession whole heartily because you will be faced with many challenges along the way. Optometry is challenging, competitive, expensive but rewarding when you are passionate about it. I have great admiration for optometrists that love their job and their devotion is always reflected in their exams. Optometrists that are not 100% comimitted to the profession is in part what is hurting the profession. Continue to explore and ask questions!.

What exactly would allow me to be 100% sure that I want to be an optometrist? I've shadowed many physicians and some optometrists (though I admit, it's only been a few) but I've felt that I enjoyed both. Both DO have that aspect of treating patients who are in need and I did especially enjoy the special patients who I've seen treated in both professions. I've asked around and people keep telling me as long as you're fully passionate about what you want to do you'll enjoy you're career. Should I be passionate about the routine eye exams? Also what if I felt passionate about both medicine and optometry, neither being clearly better than the other? That is why I am basing my decision on the lifestyle.

So start by spending time with optometrists in different modes of practice and discuss the career with them.

I fully intend to shadow more optometrists though I am not sure where to look for the different modes of practice. I've shadowed some private practices but not sure where to look for the others.
 

JMU07

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Aug 16, 2006
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  1. Optometrist
I fully intend to shadow more optometrists though I am not sure where to look for the different modes of practice. I've shadowed some private practices but not sure where to look for the others.

If you're looking for something besides private practice, start getting in touch with the Lenscrafters/Pearles/etc. in your area. Or see if you could shadow in a hospital-based setting or surgery center.
 
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