Quantcast

concerned student

Bootcamp for OAT
This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

bwac2

New Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Messages
6
Reaction score
0
Hello,

I am currently about two months into optometry school and can't really say I'm enjoying it like I thought I would. I realize that any worthwhile career takes much work but I'm concerned about the state of the profession in the coming years. I am a hard worker but I am motivated (like most sane people) by the promise of a good-paying job with little stress when the day is done. I feel like optometry is being dragged into the whole health care mess with all the other medical professions and I am becoming more discouraged by this as time goes on as well as the schooling in general, which is really not what I thought it would be. ODs and fellow students please give any insight into this situation. I'm really struggling to find great reasons to be in opto school anymore and want to know suggestions from those in the field. Thanks
 

EyeQ

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2007
Messages
91
Reaction score
0
If you're not doing optometry, what are you planning to do? Like you said
"optometry is being dragged into the whole health care mess with all the other medical professions"...There will always be problems in the health care profession so it's not just optometry. All the optometrists I've talked to are doing great. I used to work for an optometrist who graduated from Boston and moved back to CA to practice. He worked at a laser center for 2 years then decided to open his own practice (cold). His first year working he made 85K then second year 90K+. His first year owning his own practice he broke even and that's normal. Him and his wife are both optometrists. She works at Lenscrafters for 90-100K as an MOD. They are both very driven and thrifty people. They both graduate from OD school in 2003 so it's fairly recent.

Hello,

I am currently about two months into optometry school and can't really say I'm enjoying it like I thought I would. I realize that any worthwhile career takes much work but I'm concerned about the state of the profession in the coming years. I am a hard worker but I am motivated (like most sane people) by the promise of a good-paying job with little stress when the day is done. I feel like optometry is being dragged into the whole health care mess with all the other medical professions and I am becoming more discouraged by this as time goes on as well as the schooling in general, which is really not what I thought it would be. ODs and fellow students please give any insight into this situation. I'm really struggling to find great reasons to be in opto school anymore and want to know suggestions from those in the field. Thanks
 

cunikki

SCCO 2009
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2004
Messages
201
Reaction score
0
well the problem with what you are saying is twofold. if youare concerned because the first couple months arent as much fun and as interesting as you expected then you should know that a lot of the intro classes that you have to take in the first year really have not a lot to do with what you will actually be doing as a doctor so dont worry because it gets more interesting.
however, if you are already unmotivated and not interested that you are going to have a very very long 4 years in front of you... i started out super overexcited and at the end of my second year i still got into a slump where i wasnt happy but it got a lot better once i got to be in clinic a lot more.
if you are that concerned it makes more sense to get out now before you are in tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. did you feel this way before school started but just did it anyways or is this a new feeling and what brought it on???
 

r_salis

SDN Supa-Mod Emmetrope
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2002
Messages
3,767
Reaction score
7
Unfortunately, the first couple of years of optometry school can be a pretty intense drag. It starts getting better 3rd year when you start spending more time in clinic and can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The best way to stay motivated is to remember that OD school isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.
 

docwatson

Private Practice O.D.
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
167
Reaction score
1
Hello,

I am currently about two months into optometry school and can't really say I'm enjoying it like I thought I would. I realize that any worthwhile career takes much work but I'm concerned about the state of the profession in the coming years. I am a hard worker but I am motivated (like most sane people) by the promise of a good-paying job with little stress when the day is done. I feel like optometry is being dragged into the whole health care mess with all the other medical professions and I am becoming more discouraged by this as time goes on as well as the schooling in general, which is really not what I thought it would be. ODs and fellow students please give any insight into this situation. I'm really struggling to find great reasons to be in opto school anymore and want to know suggestions from those in the field. Thanks

Make sure you talk to a bunch of optometrists out in the real world to see if you should continue.

If you ever have any questions about a profession, ask those who are doing it.
 

hye345

Full Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,030
Reaction score
320
I just shadowed an optometrist today (private practice), and we had a rather long talk about the future of optometry and where it is headed. Here are the key points he made:

  • It is possible to go into private practice right after graduation; its just relatively easier (financially) to go commercial.

  • Its a better idea to purchase a practice as opposed to starting out cold; this is because you already have the clientèle and the equipment, which saves you money and time.

  • As far as man power goes, there aren't (going to be) too many optometrists, since these days the vast majority of optometry students are women, who traditionally work fewer hours than men.

  • As long as entrepreneurial individuals enter optometry, private practice will never die.

  • In the future (he said 8 years, since thats when I will graduate opt school, should I choose to attend), optometry will be better off than it is today because 1)optometry is getting more medical, 2)it is getting easier to get onto medical insurance panels, and 3)organized optometry is getting stronger in the face of medicine.

Now, this guy is in his 60's, and has been an optometrist for over 30 years, so his info might be 'outdated'. On the plus side, I found out that he charges over $220 for a regular eye exam, and he very enthusiastically showed me computer images of the eyes of patients with glaucoma, diabetes, etc.., so I would say that his practice sees its fair share of medical patients.

What do you guys think of his advice?
 

docwatson

Private Practice O.D.
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
167
Reaction score
1
I just shadowed an optometrist today (private practice), and we had a rather long talk about the future of optometry and where it is headed. Here are the key points he made:
  • It is possible to go into private practice right after graduation; its just relatively easier (financially) to go commercial.
  • Its a better idea to purchase a practice as opposed to starting out cold; this is because you already have the clientèle and the equipment, which saves you money and time.
  • As far as man power goes, there aren't (going to be) too many optometrists, since these days the vast majority of optometry students are women, who traditionally work fewer hours than men.
  • As long as entrepreneurial individuals enter optometry, private practice will never die.
  • In the future (he said 8 years, since thats when I will graduate opt school, should I choose to attend), optometry will be better off than it is today because 1)optometry is getting more medical, 2)it is getting easier to get onto medical insurance panels, and 3)organized optometry is getting stronger in the face of medicine.
Now, this guy is in his 60's, and has been an optometrist for over 30 years, so his info might be 'outdated'. On the plus side, I found out that he charges over $220 for a regular eye exam, and he very enthusiastically showed me computer images of the eyes of patients with glaucoma, diabetes, etc.., so I would say that his practice sees its fair share of medical patients.

What do you guys think of his advice?

The only things that the guy said that I agree with are the first two. The next three are flat out wrong.

These sexist comments are ridiculous. It's amazing how often I hear this crap. Women work fewer hours therefore there won't be a shortage. Utter garbage. But if we are graduating twice as many, for example, doesn't that imply that women will have to work half as much??? Baloney. Doesn't work like that. He's just talking like a typical old sexist male.

Entrepreneurial individuals???? Isn't that the whole point???? THERE ARE GETTING TO BE FAR FEWER OF THEM! Apparently this guy hasn't been on the forums or he would believe differently.

Optometry may be getting more medically oriented but that doesn't mean there is a huge market for this. Optometrists are not going to be attracting people just because we treat medical stuff. Sorry, doesn't work like this. The OMDs have all the medical patients because of intraprofessional relations. We will never ever be able to break that line.

It may be getting easier to get on medical panels but I hardly think that is going to make the profession. There are only so many panels to get on and there are only so many patients to go around. I'm maxed out on the insurance. Now what?

Organized optometry is NOT getting stronger in the face of medicine. Sorry, but that's just outright wrong. As ODs get more and more disenchanted with the AOA and drop out, what is going to happen? The association will weaken which means our representation will weaken. They have not done anything about our future. You are seeing the effects right now with the new schools being built. They will not act. We have been as strong as we ever will right now, and then we are going to start seeing our ability to fight weaken over time. I think we've maxed ourselves out on the medical side in most states. What else can we possibly go for that is going to build our profession? No, LASIK is not the answer. Even other laser surgeries are not the answer. We are moving towards injections, drops and oral therapy--non-surgical intervention.

The bottom line is that there are just too many of us and we are going to be graduating even more! There are two schools that have been approved--one in California and one in Texas. How many more are we going to see before it breaks our profession?
 

hye345

Full Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
1,030
Reaction score
320
docwatson said:
Entrepreneurial individuals???? Isn't that the whole point???? THERE ARE GETTING TO BE FAR FEWER OF THEM! Apparently this guy hasn't been on the forums or he would believe differently.

But won't that lower competition among private practice docs (since according to you, there won't be that many of them)?

docwatson said:
We are moving towards injections, drops and oral therapy--non-surgical intervention.

Is this supposed to be a bad thing?
 

bwac2

New Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Messages
6
Reaction score
0
Thanks for the replies and I hope they keep coming. To give more thoughts:

I had some concerns before going to optometry school but I feel like I didn't think about the whole "optometry becoming more medical in nature = sucked into spending a career dealing with insurance headaches" issue enough. I feel like the more I talk to current ODs the more I hear dissatisfaction with the state of OD incomes/insurance/etc. I agree with most in that money shouldn't be the only deciding factor but I am neither naive nor rich. I feel like I should be making a high salary after spending so many years and $$ training for a specific career. I was attracted to optometry because I thought that it would let me leave my high-paying job at the end of the day and go home and have a personal life, but I'm sensing that this type of optometry is outdated. It seems like having a private practice is increasingly difficult and most ODs are settling for low income and long hours to make ends meet. I feel like it's hard to justify spending so much time and money for a career like that. I am, however, a student and so I don't have the perspective of someone who's been doing the job, that's why I posted here to try to generate some responses from those who would know better than I would. And I realize that I can't have all the answers right now but I feel like I need to have a certain level of income and working conditions when I graduate to justify having spent so much time and energy getting to this career. Personally I feel like I'm having a little bit of burnout (I took no years off after undergrad to work/explore/etc.) which I'm sure everyone does. Lately though it's been difficult to focus on anything optometry-related with so many of the classes seemingly having little to do with actually practicing optometry today. Whew! Apologies for being long-winded. I thank you all sincerely for your replies so far and shedding some light on the larger world of practicing ODs. Please please continue to discuss your thoughts as I would really like to hear from as many perspectives as possible. Again, thank you and enjoy the evening!
 

fonziefonz

Full Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2006
Messages
782
Reaction score
0
Here's some advice, the doctors who are looking to complain will probably be venting on a message board, and the doctors who are out there enjoying their job and 'living the life' are probably out there doing just that. That being said, don't take 'message board reality' as 'real world reality' and base your opinions of a career your working so hard to enter on it. I know this doesn't apply to all doctors on this board, but I hope you see my point.
 

docwatson

Private Practice O.D.
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
167
Reaction score
1
Here's some advice, the doctors who are looking to complain will probably be venting on a message board, and the doctors who are out there enjoying their job and 'living the life' are probably out there doing just that. That being said, don't take 'message board reality' as 'real world reality' and base your opinions of a career your working so hard to enter on it. I know this doesn't apply to all doctors on this board, but I hope you see my point.

Hey, come on. We are people just like anyone else. I bet if you took a cross section of us and compared it to "reality" as you say, it will come out to be the same. So I would take the suggestions here and what you've learned in person seriously.

Frankly, I think you are probably going to get a more true representation of reality here on the forums because people can hide here. People are free to give out whatever advice they want because there isn't a name, address and telephone number. AND, we could be thousands of miles away. So say what you want! Complete anonymity. I think it's wrong but it's the way it is. I publish my name and photo because I am proud of who I am. Not sure about the rest of you. :rolleyes::D
 

bwac2

New Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Messages
6
Reaction score
0
it seems like the topic of oversupply is an interesting one in optometry. It was actually mentioned in an article that was part of our assigned reading for one class! But it seems like its brushed off in lectures and no-one at optometry school will discuss it directly. It seems like most people at school believe that being a career private practice OD is the usual path and easy to follow. However in speaking with real ODs they see it as being difficult these days and very competitive. I wonder if the era of private practice optometry is closing. I know there are still private practices but what are the chances of a new grad being involved in a successful private practice for their entire career without moving all over the place?
 

paremyd

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
19
Reaction score
0
it seems like the topic of oversupply is an interesting one in optometry. It was actually mentioned in an article that was part of our assigned reading for one class! But it seems like its brushed off in lectures and no-one at optometry school will discuss it directly. It seems like most people at school believe that being a career private practice OD is the usual path and easy to follow. However in speaking with real ODs they see it as being difficult these days and very competitive. I wonder if the era of private practice optometry is closing. I know there are still private practices but what are the chances of a new grad being involved in a successful private practice for their entire career without moving all over the place?

Perhaps no one at school is talking about it because they are afraid it might bite the hand that feeds them. Schools are in it to make money. They don't care about oversupply because if they reduce enrollment, it means a pay cut for someone somewhere.

There are opportunities out there, you just have to do your market research and be patient. Learn as much as you can about business/marketing because you might need it once you are in the real world. You might be able to turn around a dying practice if you have the skills/motivation/vision.

There are success stories of new grads finding the right situation on other message boards.
 

bwac2

New Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Messages
6
Reaction score
0
Once or twice the oversupply issue has been mentioned but our professors simply stated overarching goals of things like "health eyes health people" like "Encourage Americans to have regular eye exams", "have preschool children receive eye exams". It seems like nothing specific is being done about too many ODs. Don't people in this country already know about the need for eye care? Plus new schools are coming in the future which seems like a counterintuitive move. I can't help but feel like schools are more for the money than for your future, agreeing with the last post that schools don't mention the job market because they want your $$ in their pockets. I feel like 4 years and $100k may not be worth it to end up fighting for business with everyone else. I could be doing that right now without the grad degree!
 

docwatson

Private Practice O.D.
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
167
Reaction score
1
Once or twice the oversupply issue has been mentioned but our professors simply stated overarching goals of things like "health eyes health people" like "Encourage Americans to have regular eye exams", "have preschool children receive eye exams". It seems like nothing specific is being done about too many ODs. Don't people in this country already know about the need for eye care? Plus new schools are coming in the future which seems like a counterintuitive move. I can't help but feel like schools are more for the money than for your future, agreeing with the last post that schools don't mention the job market because they want your $$ in their pockets. I feel like 4 years and $100k may not be worth it to end up fighting for business with everyone else. I could be doing that right now without the grad degree!

You are absolutely right.

The AOA should take most of the blame for this since they are supposed to be representing us in all matters concerning our profession. Since they have taken the position that just about everything internal to the profession is considered anti-trust, they are completely ineffective with these matters. Sure they have been very effective in fending off advances by the MDs who make frequent attempts to take our licenses away, and 1800Contacts who has been trying very hard to make contacts a commodity without Rx, and so forth, they haven't done anything to keep us from imploding from within. And that my friends is the real enemy...

If you have the ability to become a member of www.ODWire.org or www.proactod.org please do so now. There are a lot of discussions about our future and who knows, maybe we can so something to help ourselves.http://www.proactod.org/
 

IndianaOD

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2007
Messages
1,146
Reaction score
3
The AOA is becoming very disappointing. Even though oversupply is becoming the #1 concern of ODs, they refuse to even talk about it. I am in dental envy. Same length of school, average income of $190k, per recent NY Times article. Even though dentists are in much higher demand, the ADA still says it does not support new schools. Must be nice!
 

hello07

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
389
Reaction score
19
I read with interest not long ago the median optometric annual salaries for the past few years I believe in Review of Optometry. Although, it might have been somehwrer else I read it. Some of those figures appear staggering and hard to believe that us OD's actually make that much. May I ask, are these figures inflated to make our profession appear worthwhile from an economic point? Where did they come up with these high figures for self employment and /or other modalities of practice? They seem very high to me. Are they sugar coating them or am I really underpaid and undervalued? Any response will help.
 

docwatson

Private Practice O.D.
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
167
Reaction score
1
I read with interest not long ago the median optometric annual salaries for the past few years I believe in Review of Optometry. Although, it might have been somehwrer else I read it. Some of those figures appear staggering and hard to believe that us OD's actually make that much. May I ask, are these figures inflated to make our profession appear worthwhile from an economic point? Where did they come up with these high figures for self employment and /or other modalities of practice? They seem very high to me. Are they sugar coating them or am I really underpaid and undervalued? Any response will help.

Those numbers are based on many private practice doctors who responded to the survey. Even the AOA surveys are incredibly skewed for the same reason. There are far more private practice doctors who are AOA members than commercial docs, who tend to make less. With private business owners, the sky is the limit with salary and you'll see quite a few ODs who make millions. I know an OD in Florida who has 5 locations and 9 doctors working for him. There are no commercial docs or employed docs who are making even close to this much.

I assume you are an OD? Too bad you didn't interview with me a couple of years ago when I was looking to hire an OD. I pay way more than the national average as reported in salary.com. :D:D
 

rodomon

Full Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2007
Messages
36
Reaction score
0
I'm a first-year optometry student, so this is what I've heard from currently-practicing ODs. I'm going to paint in broad strokes; obviously there are individuals who are breaking all of these generalizations.

As an employee in a chain, you'll work long hours (9a-9p), weekends, and holidays. However, you make good money (short-term) and have no extra duties; you're done when you're done. Easy to find in large cities.

As an employee in a multi-doctor private office, you'll work fewer hours (9a-5p), weekends, and holidays (they're usually split between the doctors). You'll make decent short-term money. More difficult to find in large cities. Possible chance of associateship and buying out the owner.

As an owner, you'll work horrifically-long hours and make no money to begin with. If you manage the place well, though, you'll gradually work shorter hours and make more money. In the beginning, if you open cold, you'll have no patients, so you're probably going to have to subsidize your income by working elsewhere part-time. The big personal benefit is control; once you get rolling, you can work when you want and practice how you want. The big monetary payoff is equity; you can sell the business when you're ready to retire. There are much bigger risks at the beginning and end for this one; you need to take out a huge loan to start and you might make a ton of money at the end, but it all depends on you. Buying out a private practice would fit this scheme as well. All but impossible to find in large cities; you have to be in towns to pull this off.

So, if you want to just go home at the end of the day and make decent money, work for someone. If you own a practice, you actually have to manage it and deal with the gigantic business loans on top of your school loans. However, you won't make as much money in the long run, especially when you retire; instead of selling your business for a (hopefully) huge gain, you'll simply have 0 income.

Some transitions are fairly easy, such as employee to eventually buying out the owner, especially if you go into the situation with both parties planning for that eventually. Others are extremely difficult, such as chain to private practice, which is almost impossible. It's easier to go from loans from school and just add on business loans immediately after graduation than pay off school loans and then have to go back into debt when you're supporting a house, cars, spouse, kids, etc 5-10 years after you're done with school. I only know a few people who have worked chain for 5 years and then opened their own business, and they were steel-willed and absolutely knew they were going to quit after 5 years of working for someone else.

If a certain mode of practice was all benefit, no drawbacks, everybody would be doing it; you have to balance the pros and cons of each and decide which works best for you.

As for optometry school all together; what other options would you consider? Another professional school, graduate school, working your way up the corporate ladder, entrepreneur... Will any of them be any better? Again, it's all about balancing benefits and drawbacks.

Some of the best advice I've received is figure out what you want to look back upon when you retire and work towards that.
 

docwatson

Private Practice O.D.
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
167
Reaction score
1
I'm a first-year optometry student, so this is what I've heard from currently-practicing ODs. I'm going to paint in broad strokes; obviously there are individuals who are breaking all of these generalizations.

As an employee in a chain, you'll work long hours (9a-9p), weekends, and holidays. However, you make good money (short-term) and have no extra duties; you're done when you're done. Easy to find in large cities.

You may or may not work long hours. I've done commercial work and it doesn't mean 9 - 9. You can still work an 8 hour shift as usual.

You may even work 5 days per week. Depends on the contract.


As an employee in a multi-doctor private office, you'll work fewer hours (9a-5p), weekends, and holidays (they're usually split between the doctors). You'll make decent short-term money. More difficult to find in large cities. Possible chance of associateship and buying out the owner.

More difficult to find in large cities??? Why? Should be far easier to find in big cities. Small towns generally do not have group OD practices.

As an owner, you'll work horrifically-long hours and make no money to begin with. If you manage the place well, though, you'll gradually work shorter hours and make more money. In the beginning, if you open cold, you'll have no patients, so you're probably going to have to subsidize your income by working elsewhere part-time. The big personal benefit is control; once you get rolling, you can work when you want and practice how you want. The big monetary payoff is equity; you can sell the business when you're ready to retire. There are much bigger risks at the beginning and end for this one; you need to take out a huge loan to start and you might make a ton of money at the end, but it all depends on you. Buying out a private practice would fit this scheme as well. All but impossible to find in large cities; you have to be in towns to pull this off.

You would only make no money to begin with if you open cold. That's why I always suggest buying a practice so you have instant income. I bought a practice myself and yes, I've worked long hours in the beginning but I can say that I only see patients 3.5 days out of the week now after 3 years.

Again, why the small towns? You can find opportunities everywhere. I'm in the Hartford metropolitan area--1 million population.

the biggest benefit as you say is control--sort of. kind of hard to control employees many times!

So, if you want to just go home at the end of the day and make decent money, work for someone. If you own a practice, you actually have to manage it and deal with the gigantic business loans on top of your school loans. However, you won't make as much money in the long run, especially when you retire; instead of selling your business for a (hopefully) huge gain, you'll simply have 0 income.

There is nothing wrong with working for someone else. it's a choice and it's not necessarily a bad one. some people just don't like the idea of managing. of course you have to be comfortable with taking orders from someone else and have an income which probably won't exceed your practice's business owner, but hey, nothing wrong with that.

there may come a time when doctors can't sell their practices since private practice may be on it's way out. just make as much money as you can while you can and don't worry about selling. if you can sell, more gravy for you.

Some transitions are fairly easy, such as employee to eventually buying out the owner, especially if you go into the situation with both parties planning for that eventually. Others are extremely difficult, such as chain to private practice, which is almost impossible. It's easier to go from loans from school and just add on business loans immediately after graduation than pay off school loans and then have to go back into debt when you're supporting a house, cars, spouse, kids, etc 5-10 years after you're done with school. I only know a few people who have worked chain for 5 years and then opened their own business, and they were steel-willed and absolutely knew they were going to quit after 5 years of working for someone else.

If a certain mode of practice was all benefit, no drawbacks, everybody would be doing it; you have to balance the pros and cons of each and decide which works best for you.

As for optometry school all together; what other options would you consider? Another professional school, graduate school, working your way up the corporate ladder, entrepreneur... Will any of them be any better? Again, it's all about balancing benefits and drawbacks.

Some of the best advice I've received is figure out what you want to look back upon when you retire and work towards that.

Excellent advice!

Replies posted above in red.
 
Top