Is optometry becoming saturated?

Discussion in 'Optometry' started by lisabeth13, 05.18.14.

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  1. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    I am hoping an optometrist in PP has some insight on this. Is this field becoming too saturated to make a decent living? Are the larger chains (lens crafters, walmart...etc) hurting smaller private practices? I am worried that I will have a hard time finding a job or not be able to pay off my loans. I would prefer to have my own private practice but I certainly don't want to be unrealistic about it.
     
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  3. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

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    I'm surprised no one has responded to this post yet. Here is my opinion, take it for what it's worth (0.02 cents).

    Optometry is pumping out too many new grads, and opening new schools to boot. However, saturation occurs in certain areas more than others. If you are unwilling to leave a saturated area for a more viable location, it will be a struggle. You can't just hang a sign and expect a growing business anymore. A successful practice will require careful planning, especially when choosing a location. Corporate chains hurt some private practices, but they are a different animal, and many OD's have successful practices despite their proximity to big box opticals. Some will say that it is impossible for new grads to get into private practice. That isn't true. Optometry is still a great field with lots of opportunity. That being said, do everything possible to minimize your student debt.
     
  4. optsuker

    optsuker 7+ Year Member

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    I'm more pessimistic than EyeCaptain.
    IMO, the US is already saturated nearly everywhere.

    I think the only PP opportunities are going to be the inherited ones: working for a relative or having it lined up before starting optometry school.
    Corporate practices will let new grads bid for how little they're willing to take to get the job.

    I have 2 associates now & they both had a prior relationship with me. I had little desire to take a chance on someone I didn't know & if you graduated from Western, Midwestern, UIW; don't even bother applying!

    I foresee the best PP owners never selling. They'll just employ 2-3 new grads for what hiring 1 used to cost.
     
    Last edited: 05.21.14
  5. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    I think you are probably right. I've been debating optometry or dental school and after doing more research and looking at forums here, I'm leaning more towards dental school. I really enjoy both so it's a hard decision but I need to do what is more stable in the long run.
     
  6. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    I've been hearing crickets in this forum for what seemed like forever! Thank you for responding and sharing your thoughts!
     
  7. Loptometriste

    Loptometriste 2+ Year Member

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    There are many similar threads, and I think that is why not many have responded. It's the whole beating a dead horse with a stick type of thing.
     
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  8. 310

    310 2+ Year Member

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    Everyone finds jobs currently. Not everyone finds good jobs. With that said, it's a walk in the park compared to what new law grads deal with.


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  9. 310

    310 2+ Year Member

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    You're posting from your microcosm here. Few of the people I know who work private had prior relationships with their employers. And income is dependent on a lot of things. A good and dependable doctor at a high net/growing practice is unlikely to have his/her salary lowered or get booted because a less qualified new grad will work for less. I'd like to think that most employers have a decent sense of ethics or at least enough logic to realize that disrupting the practice in order to save a little isn't the best idea.


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  10. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    I did see that there was similar posts but they are several years old (one is from 2004) and as we know...the market changes and new schools have opened up. I just wanted a more recent response from optometrists/new grads.
     
  11. OpticalBlackOut

    OpticalBlackOut 7+ Year Member

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    If that's the case, much like the onset of presbyopia, the problem has gotten a lot worse.

    As posters have noted though, there are still decent to great job openings but they're tough to find. Most of them require you to live outside of cities, with rural areas obviously being the easiest.

    If you read a little further, the loan amount that you have to take on (~$250000) and the salary you'll be making by putting together part-time opportunities just doesn't seem to be worth it anymore.
    If you follow 'ODs on Facebook,' many ODs themselves wouldn't advocate their children to join this field as it is today.
    I really like what I do everyday, but after you read up on: Opternative, 1800 contacts, and reimbursements from vision care plans, it just doesn't seem like a prudent decision compared to dentistry.

    Side note: I still attribute the downfall of SDN's Optometry forums when they decided to demote KHE from moderator (still frustrated and annoyed by this decision)
     
    Last edited: 05.20.14
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  12. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

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    Then this website is a moot point, since just about everything under the sun has at one time been addressed here.

    I don't disagree with the other comments that have been made. Things have gotten worse over the years, but remember that the United States is a big country. There are opportunities. Find out what you want to do, start making connections as soon as possible. Networking is no less important in Optometry than other professions.

    I think you'll find that Dentistry is saturated as well. You will be competing with other Dentists no matter where you go, judging by the ads I hear on the radio that go something like: "Best in pediatric care!" or "Best in sedative Dentistry!" You've got to find your niche no matter what career path you choose. Dentistry is fortunate to have been able to avoid corporate intrusion for the most part. As a side note, those who choose to slam corporate OD's are idiots.

    250,000 is a high estimate for Opt school debt. Try to get in-state tuition, do work study, don't buy expensive things. Debt can be minimized, but don't underestimate how burdensome it will be later.

    I didn't know KHE was demoted, this website is definitely on the downhill... Keep in mind (this one is worth about .04) those with negative feelings tend to post them on the internet more than those who are successful. Just take what you read online with a grain of salt. Then go research the facts, because there is some truth to just about all of it.
     
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  13. DrVinzKlortho

    DrVinzKlortho 2+ Year Member

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    Sadly $250k is realistic for a new(er) grad.
     
  14. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

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    Based on what?

    I have no doubt that it has happened, but to say that it is realistic for a new grad is way too subjective. Sorry, that's just not an accurate figure.
     
  15. DrVinzKlortho

    DrVinzKlortho 2+ Year Member

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    Really? Look up the in-state and out-of-state tuition for the majority of the schools. Approximately 50% of students are paying OOS tuition. Add in living costs, compound interest at 6.8% and you could EASILY rack up $250k+. My class alone the average was hovering around $196k for OD school alone (not counting undergrad) and my school was not the most expensive. In fact it was cheaper for me to go OOS than in-state for my local OD school.
     
  16. DrVinzKlortho

    DrVinzKlortho 2+ Year Member

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    Here are some not some sources for you:

    http://www.sunyopt.edu/education/admissions/od_program/tuition_and_fees
    http://www.optometry.iu.edu/doc/2013-2014-od-cost-sheet.pdf
    http://optometry.osu.edu/futureStudents/fees_expenses.cfm

    If we take a modest tuition number, say $28k, plus equipment, living expenses, etc. a student can expect to borrow $45k/yr. That's a modest number. Over 4 years you're looking at over $180k already. With interest you're well over $210k. So tell me again how my numbers are subjective, bro?
     
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  17. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

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    The reason it is subjective, bro, is because you assume too many things. Tuition varies widely from school to school. 50% may pay out of state, but the other half don't. Many will matriculate with undergrad debt, credit card debt, car payments, etc. many will not. Some will live with a roommate and pay 300/month for housing, others are married or will live alone and pay three times that amount, not to mention the difference between living in southern California/Chicago/New York vs. Oklahoma/Memphis/Oregon. Some will choose work study, or have enough money saved to put a dent in their tuition without government loans. Some will spend too much money on the weekends, eat out multiple times a week and commute to school, others will not. Some will start paying their loans back as it accumulates, others will do nothing but let it accrue interest for four+ years.

    The point is, for those who are worried about debt, there are ways to be smart. For some, 250k may be unavoidable. I don't believe that will be true for the majority.
     
  18. DrVinzKlortho

    DrVinzKlortho 2+ Year Member

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    I'm not your bro, bro. You undermine too many things. Not everyone has everything spoon fed to them financially. What 23 year old has enough money saved up to put a nice dent on their loans? Yes we had a few people like that but Optometry was a second career for them and they were much older than the average matriculating student. Work study might pay for food--maybe gas--for the month if you're lucky? I worked 8-12 hrs/wk during the first two years, didn't have a car my first year, never paid more than $635/mo in rent and I still ended up just shy of $200k before interest from OD school alone. Most students can't or won't work that much. I didn't eat like Ghandi but I didn't eat like Chris Christie either. Most of us were fairly money contentious. Some weren't--a few in my class hit $300k. They hit the town every weekend, drove expensive cars and lived in better apartments.

    If you do not believe that $250k is a realistic number then you are either:

    a. Really, really, ridiculously delusional.
    b. A trust fund baby who suckled the swollen bosom of your guardians.
    c. An administrator at one of the schools--probably one of the newer, ironically--expensive, schools.
    d. An OD who graduated before Y2K.
    e. Choices a, b and d.
    f. All of the above.

    More importantly you're lying to potential students about realistic debt coming out of OD school. Go on any other OD forum and see what recent grads have to pay back.
     
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  19. OpticalBlackOut

    OpticalBlackOut 7+ Year Member

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    http://www.sco.edu/debtcalculatorforprospectivestudents

    - Selecting non-regional seat ($31050) gives an approx. $213,752 in loans without interest.

    http://www.sco.edu/assets/1813/profileoptometry.pdf

    - Looking at the numbers for out of state, the range is from $25,500 - $52,983.
    Next, extrapolating the average OOS tuition for the 21 schools, it came out to: $37227.10/year
    Using that average tuition in the formula (keeping in mind tuition continues to increase yearly), you end up with $241,601 for the 4 years.

    You're right - there are plenty of variables to consider (the biggest being out of state v.s. in-state...but many students don't have the luxury of an in-state school), but I don't think my ballpark figure is inaccurate if we're looking at 2018 graduates.
    Hell, the post-interest figure from that calculation is $333,641 after all is said and done.
     
    Last edited: 05.30.14
  20. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

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    As much as we love to extrapolate our own experiences across the board, it's not helpful.

    250k is realistic for some new grads. It depends, and I do not think it is the norm, which is the point I am making. Maybe I misinterpreted the intent of your original post, in which case I humbly bow my head and place rose petals at your feet.

    Am I lying to potential students by telling them there are ways to minimize their debt? Maybe I'm giving them too much hope, and they will take that statement as a comfort, while taking no real action to secure themselves financially. That's very possible, and would certainly be detrimental. Grad school tuition has practically reached the moon in the past decade, this is not unique to Optometry, and anyone going into this career thinking that they will skip through the sunshine because "everyone has debt these days" and "as long as I can afford the monthly, I'm golden" is going to end up venting on SDN.

    In the interest of productivity, and DrVinz's ego, let's cut this short and get to the moral of the story: Optometry school is expensive, and don't think that because you saw a pretty number under the salary listing of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Optometry page that everything will just work itself out. You'll have to do more than hang a sign to be successful. Do your research, and assess your own situation.

    I apologize for the whole bro thing. I don't know what made me think we were bros... I guess it might have been the part where you called me your bro, but I'm just shooting from the hip. I'm starting to think this may be a one-sided relationship DrVinz. At least break it to me softly, if you can.


    As for the original question, maybe DrVinz would like to invest his energy into an opinion about the saturation of Optometry and the viability of private practice in today's environment.

    edit: It's true I didn't take into account that loans will now start to accrue interest immediately, instead of upon graduation. Definitely something that should be taken into account. I'll go get more rose petals.
     
  21. DrVinzKlortho

    DrVinzKlortho 2+ Year Member

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    This.

    So how do we fix the problem?
    Close 1/2 the OD schools or decrease the number of matriculants by 1/2.
    Stop taking Davis, Eyemed, Spectera, et al.
    Stop allowing 2 for 1's w/ free exams.
    Take control of our profession.

    As far as the whole bro thing--it's cool--I like to play hard to get.
     
  22. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

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    Sing it preacher. The powers that be need to do something, like make it more difficult to become an accredited Optometry school for example. Or even raising standards for acceptance. VCP's will reign as long as OD's decide they are the lesser evil. I have heard success stories of OD's dropping them. It means fewer patients, but for many it is more than beneficial.

    I'm hoping a new generation will be willing to fight for this profession.

    Or if some of you feel there are just too many icky problems in Optometry, you can always climb mount Olympus and pass through the golden gates into the magical kingdom of Dentistry.
     
  23. ayk1987

    ayk1987 5+ Year Member

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    Threads like this make me uneasy. I just graduated this May from UIW with about 220k in student loans. You never really think about the debt in school as much as you do out of school. It takes a significant chunk of your salary. Sure you can tell everyone you have a 6 figure job and are a doctor but in reality after taxes and loan payments I think I will be living off 30-40K a year for a while. As for the saturation of optometry... I'm debating on where I should live. The employers who have offered me 100+k are in small towns I would hate living in. I think for a kid interested in the health field they should look into PA school. I'm sure they make similar pay and school debt will be significantly lower.
     
  24. DrVinzKlortho

    DrVinzKlortho 2+ Year Member

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    Live like a student for a few more years. I was able to shave off $90k since I started paying mine 2.5 years ago. You'll have to work a few 6, maybe 7 day weeks but start eating away at them ASAP. I could've put more towards them but you want to diversify your portfolio a bit. If your employer has a 401k program max that out if you can. If you're a 1099 open up a SEP and do what you can with that.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  25. KHE

    KHE Senior Member SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    So let me ask you a question then......what research did you do before you entered school? What was your understanding of these issues? Did you expect 200k + jobs for new grads grew like dandelions all over the nation?

    What did you expect?
     
  26. opto2be

    opto2be 5+ Year Member

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    The 6-figure number should be your net income. If you're living off 30-40K a year, that means you're paying back more than 60K in loans per year, which is good. You'll be done with your loan payments in less than 4 years. That's better than many others, who have mentioned it took them 10-15 years.
     
  27. hello07

    hello07 7+ Year Member

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    To answer your question - YES. Optometry is becoming very saturated with OD's in major cities. Many new schools have opened up the past 6-7 years. From 16 to 21 plus another 2 coming up to a total of 23 I believe. Many more students in each entering class and many more graduating each year. IMO salaries have plateaued and in some cases have gone down- remained stagnant. If you get into medical billing -Optometric services you can make more money together with your salaried position.
    If you graduate with no loans zero student debt then you you'll do okay but nothing great. If you're in 150-200K in debt you got an uphill battle to pay that back in additional to expenses as to mortgage, car payments, etc.............................

    Optometry is a wonderful profession. If you truly enjoy your work and want to help people then go for it. However, this is not a field that will make you rich unless you own your own practice retail or private and even then there is no guarantee because of the many variable involved in succeeding. I'm not going to tell you it's a great filed and sugar coated. It has its issues as a profession and some serious ones may I add. If you want to make a lot of money and become more marketable than an OD go to med school and your return on you investment will far exceed that of an OD degree.

    Many ODs might not agree with my statements and that's alright. I'm here to tell you the truth not embellish something that is not true.

    Good Luck to you!
     
  28. 20DOC20

    20DOC20 2+ Year Member

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    Optometry is more saturated in urban areas and in most towns that have 30-50,000 people. Smaller than 30,000 people in a very isolated location, you'll find less saturation. It can also vary state-to-state. You also have to consider proximity to big box locations, most especially Costco.

    I've already been associated with one private practice that went bankrupt and now, I'm associated with a second private practice that's on the verge of going under. I'm independently contracted in this second situation and I'm fairly certain the practice isn't even making payroll. And this is a practice that's been around for 25+ years. Reasons are low reimbursement from Obamacare-type plans.

    I think the ROI is too low for optometry. If one graduated with say ... 85K student loan debt, then it's do-able. Personally, I wouldn't go into 200K plus student loan debt unless the starting annual salary is 70% of that total debt. That makes 140K starting? I've NEVER made that. Not in 15+ years of practice.

    You might make 120K starting if you've done a residency, or if you prick your finger with a needle and sign a Faustian Contract in blood with National Vision.

    If you worked for the prison system, Correctional Eyecare, and examined prisoners, you could make 600 per day. But those jobs are hard. Lots of patients. Mostly just refracting. You also have to commute between prison locations. And you're examining hard criminals. That would be a good way to pay off student loans, but not a job anyone would want permanently. I'd be concerned about my personal safety in that situation.

    In a private practice, you could make 115K per year starting salary with benefits (MAX) on the West Coast of the US. And that's assuming 5 days per week. That salary does not meet the criteria of 70% estimated student loan debt.

    Back in the day, I graduated optometry school with 75K debt and my first year, I made 80K. I worked 5 days per week on average. I paid off the loan within 5 years. So, back when I graduated, optometry certainly was worth it!

    I'd never in a million years do it knowing I'd graduate 225K in student loan debt ... especially given the fact that you can't claim student loan debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. (Well, you can, but only a small percentage like 30% of the total student loan debt, and that's if you get a good bankruptcy attorney). I mean, you graduate with a "mortgage!!"

    A much better ROI would be a technical program such as Medical Imaging. You can go into Nuclear Imaging, or Ultrasound, or echocardiography. You usually graduate with a 5-6 year BS degree. Sometimes a Masters? Not sure. And they make starting out around 70K per year. If you went to an in-state and state-sponsored school, you'd pay undergraduate tuition of around 15K per year tuition and fees. So that makes 90K per year. You'd be 150K in debt if you didn't work and didn't get any sort of grants or scholarships. According to my formula you'd have to make 105K starting to justify it ... but that's a high estimate of debt in that sort of program. More reasonable would be 125K debt for a technical BS degree, or even a PA program. In that case you'd need to make 88K to justify the debt according to my formula and that's pretty close.

    Advantages to not being a doctor: lower malpractice, less responsibility, less CE requirements, lower student loan debt, less time in school, and no call coverage! So why on earth would you want to become a doctor in this climate when being a tech is so much better???

    To justify 225K in debt you'd need to make a little over 150K gross annual starting salary to justify the debt and you won't do that with optometry. For example, in the VA system, the highest paid level of OD would make 156K. Starting salary in VA for an optometrist (new grad) would be around 65K. You could work up to 156K but after many, many years of practice combined with a residency. Like 15 years plus residency.

    In a saturated city in the US you might make 75K as an optometrist your first year. That's a realistic number for most OD's.

    I'm also hearing "through the grapevine" that optometry schools are lying to students, telling them they can make 225K per year starting salary. That's not true! I recently came across an advertisement for a glaucoma specialist (ophthalmologist) that was 225K per year starting salary. Not for an OD! I mean, seriously??? Are they talking Euros? Or pesos? So if you've heard someone from your optometry school telling you this, it's a bunch of bologna -- As is in total BS.

    Sorry. This profession kinda su*ks. It used to be awesome 20 years ago! I mean, really promising and awesome.
     
    Last edited: 06.01.14
  29. opto2be

    opto2be 5+ Year Member

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    People seem to be mixing up gross and net income. A gross income of 150K would would likely result in a net income that's less than 100K. That's certainly doable as a starting salary.
     
  30. optsuker

    optsuker 7+ Year Member

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    If you graduated from UIW, you must be going to work along the Mexico border.
    That's how UIW justified its opening originally; it was going to produce Spanish speakers that only fill unwanted jobs in remote locations.,
     
  31. Tippytoe

    Tippytoe 7+ Year Member

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    As I've said on a few occasions, Optometry is a dead profession. I opened a brand new practice 15 years ago. Still struggling to make ends meet. Working from 50%-70% of the time. There simply is not enough patients to go around for every OD and OMD. There wasn't in the late 90's and with 4 or 6 new OD schools, it is getting much worse. And yes, I am a charming, charismatic and likable. (Believe it or not). All of my business is word-of-mouth. I quit advertising long ago. A yellow page ad around here is $1000 per month. I teach eye care at a nursing school and have gotten referrals that way. I worked nursing homes for years. I've entertained numerous local primary care docs and PAs. Get a few referral that way. I've done school screenings. I've talked to church groups. I even opened an eye clinic clinic inside a primary care doc's office.

    The VAST difference with Dentistry is that they compete with no one except other dentists. ODs compete with OMDs, opticians, family docs (Rx'ing Gentamicin for iritis), every Urgent Care clinic (when is the last time you heard of an Urgent Care clinic pulling a tooth?), Pediatricians (giving every kid Polytrim), 1-800 contacts, and 1,000 other on-line sites including Warby Parker who sell adequate glasses for like $8. My own sister-in-law bought from them for her 3 children. There is no loyalty. Not even with family. People will leave you in a second to save $0.50 on a box of contact lenses. Fortunately for me, I practice mostly medical eye care. But even so, there is only so much to go around. I've seen insurance go from $110 for a routine exam to $30-$40. Everything is being cut. All the medical plans that used to pay decent are now farming their eye care out to crappy plans like Spectera and Superior Vision which pay you $40 for the exam and a $20 "fitting fee" for glasses. When chair cost are $80 (what it cost you to see a patient), it doesn't take long to see that no matter how many insurance exams you do, you are losing money.

    Think anyone cares? Think again. The AOA's solution was to develop a bogus "Board Certification" and try to scare ODs into thinking all insurance companies will demand that ODs be board certified. Fact is: NO INSURANCE COMPANY REQUIRES IT NOW AND NONE HAVE SAID THEY WILL IN THE FUTURE. Problem is, anyone with a brain knows that Board Certification is supposed to mean something...a higher level of training.............not just that you passed an open book test. ALL ODs are the SAME! But if you pay them $1,800 and pay a little test (they gave time in practice points), you can have a nice wall certificate. Lets see, $1,800 x 40,000 optometrists = $72 Million. Wonder where that money goes?!

    Dentist deal with none of this because, for whatever reason, allopathic medicine never developed a toothMD profession. Hell our state requires a comprehensive dental exam prior to starting school. NOT AN EYE EXAM. Go figure.

    $200,000+ in school debt will make you an indentured servant to Wal-mart where you will deal with the constant "bleep, bleep, bleep" of the registers and nasty people pushing their shopping cart into your 15 x 15 foot "office".

    As much as this upsets some, it's not an opinion- It's a fact from where I stand and from many colleagues I talk to around the country. There is no place in America where there is a shortage of ODs. I did hear of a few towns on the Mexican border that could use an eye doc.
     
    Last edited: 06.02.14
  32. ayk1987

    ayk1987 5+ Year Member

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    I didn't research as thouroghly as I should have before going into optometry school. No one's fault but my own. As for paying off loans... I have an offer for 90K. After taxes I guess I will have roughly 65K. If I put 25K towards loans every year then I will be living off 40K for the next 10 years.
     
  33. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

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    A "fact from where someone stands" sounds a lot like an opinion. Interesting to note that many of those whom I associate with around the country are not nearly as bitter. Sure, the problems you mentioned are real, but your post is more of a venting session than anything.

    Do your homework kids, you don't want to end up ranting on SDN.
     
  34. opto2be

    opto2be 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    07.16.09
    Messages:
    75
    No offense, but aren't you pre-opt? Tippytoe is speaking from firsthand experience as an optometrist. As almost everyone has mentioned, it's tougher for newer grads than those who entered the profession decades ago. How long have the optometrists you associate with been in practice? That could affect their attitudes toward the profession.
     
    Loptometriste likes this.
  35. 20DOC20

    20DOC20 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    06.19.10
    Messages:
    146
    Status:
    Optometrist
    "I didn't research as thouroghly as I should have before going into optometry school. No one's fault but my own. As for paying off loans... I have an offer for 90K. After taxes I guess I will have roughly 65K. If I put 25K towards loans every year then I will be living off 40K for the next 10 years."


    Congratulations. That's a good offer.

    Also, I advise you not to consolidate your loans. It's easier to pay them off one loan at a time rather than lump them into one payment with a huge principal.
     
  36. 20DOC20

    20DOC20 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    Status:
    Optometrist
    "People seem to be mixing up gross and net income. A gross income of 150K would would likely result in a net income that's less than 100K. That's certainly doable as a starting salary."

    No mixup. I am just looking at ratios. Ratio of student debt to gross income.
     
  37. 20DOC20

    20DOC20 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    146
    Status:
    Optometrist
    I agree with Tippytoe also, 100%. That's exactly the way it really is.

    Because of the saturation, I'm left with nothing to do with much of my day ... like the books are 1/3 to 1/2 full per day. I don't know why my employer hasn't cut my hours. I'm just keeping my mouth shut. If they want to pay me good money to play on my facebook page for most of my day, that's their problem. I'm not allowed to do anything but eye exams during my day. If there's free time, I'm not allowed to participate in practice management or staff training or anything. I just sit here at my computer and twiddle my thumbs. (Already have maximum certification in this state and I have so much CE that I am prequalified for next years license renewal).

    The saturation is also making this a very boring profession, at least in the private practice sector. The boredom I endure is probably the hardest part of my job. I am an impatient personality and sitting around waiting for patients drives me up the freaking wall!

    So ... I don't know. Am actually considering leaving the white collar world for a blue collar one. Or a white collar/blue collar such as landscaping, or something where I can see sunlight sometimes.

    And actually, I've spent a good deal of my career bored out of my freaking mind, like right now for example.

    Don't understand the way the world works. When I worked really hard as a housekeeper or in fast food, made little money. As an optometrist where I spend at least 4 hours of each work day doing absolutely nothing, I get paid lots of money. Strange, upside down world we live in.
     
  38. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

    Joined:
    01.24.14
    Messages:
    141
    My internet opinion is as subjective as anyone's, and the experiences of the OD's I interact with are as real as Tippytoe's and 20DOC20's. I've heard a wide variety of opinions and experiences. It does make a difference how long they have been in practice and I think many fall into the trap of looking at successful 30 year old practices and thinking they will be able to replicate that success with minimal effort. That's why I don't limit my interactions to experienced ODs.

    I am not downplaying Tippytoe's experiences, or those of anyone who posts on SDN, because I believe they are true. I'm sure that Tippytoe has struggled, and the challenges and problems that were mentioned are real. Many others struggle as well, I truly do realize this. Do you think everyone is as bored with their work as 20DOC20? My point is that there are many Optometrists who are happy and successful who are not posting their experiences online. They have their problems as well (unlike Dentistry which is devoid of negatives) but a good living and satisfying lifestyle is still a possibility in this profession. I know more than one recent graduate who has been successful in starting a practice cold. No, they didn't open up in downtown L.A., but they didn't start on the Mexican border either, although I realize that for some people a world does not exist outside of New York City or southern California. For them I would suggest a different career path. Yes, it is absolutely harder for newer grads today than it was decades ago, and this is something that should be understood by everyone thinking about entering Optometry school. I think a new OD with 250k in debt is going to have an uphill battle for many years. There are too many schools, there is increasing competition, average wages are decreasing, everyone knows this because we read it over and over again on these forums. People aren't lying, they are just presenting information surrounded by personal opinion and emotion.

    Here is my issue: You can't read a statement like Tippytoe's or 20DOC20's and think that they aren't emotionally charged. That doesn't mean they are lying. They aren't making up these problems, they are just summarizing them according to their personal experience. Optometry is dead. It's a sinking ship, it sucks, anyone who thinks they won't be eating garbage on the street after 5 years is delusional. When you hear something like that, are you just going to take it at face value? Well, they are experienced Optometrists so it must be true. The only problem is that other experienced Optometrists don't see it that way. Not every practice is as slow as the one 20DOC20 is employed at. Maybe the opinionated rhetoric is a positive thing in that it will inspire readers to look into the actual problems that face Optometry. What it mostly does is scare people away by associating real problems with unreal conclusions.

    Then again, maybe I shouldn't complain if it scares away competition. Maybe we can be so negative that schools will start closing down, in which case count me in.
     
    Last edited: 06.02.14
  39. Tippytoe

    Tippytoe 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    08.20.07
    Messages:
    568
    Status:
    Optometrist
    Your point might have had some validity 30 years ago. Now, in the days of instant communication, most of us stay in close contact with our colleagues throughout the states. I hear the same opinions I've stated from virtually all of them (except a few that took over dads practice established in the 1950s).

    As 20doc20 stated, this profession is good for you if you would be happy working on a widget assembly line somewhere...........but for more money. In other words, you use your brain about 0.1% of the time. For some, this might sound like a dream job, I suppose.
     
  40. Tippytoe

    Tippytoe 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    08.20.07
    Messages:
    568
    Status:
    Optometrist
    I actually agree with you and your point has been made many times as well. Sure there is a small percentage of ODs that do well. Eye care is like a selling cars. There are Lexus and Mercedes dealers-- They are big OMD clinics. There are Toyota and Honda dealers. They are small time OMDs. Then there are ODs. We are the used car lots taking up the scraps left to us and trying to upsell everyone into pinstrips and undercoating.

    There will always be the ones that do well via hard work, location, karma, mojo and luck. 10% 'ers. The point is that the vast majority of Optometrists in the country struggle. Every other magazine article now is "How to deal with on-line sales" and "How to keep more optical sales in your office" and " You must be more efficient Nowadays". If you are doing well, more power to you. I was once very optimistic and even wrote some O.M. articles myself. Then I saw reality.

    Optometry is certainly not the worst job in the world. It's just that it's getting worse and I can follow the trend line. It's going down no matter which way you look at it. We are graduating 30% more ODs at a time most felt we were already supersaturated, insurance reimbursements are shrinking consistently (imaging cut by 50% a few years ago, most exam fees but by 20%), online optical (both glasses and CLs) are growing quickly. In fact online optical comprised 3.2% of all optical purchase last year and it's just getting started for glasses. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where this is going when 40% of an OD revenue is from optical sales. Buy glasses for $300 from my OD or for $10 at Warby Parker or 2 pair bifocals fore $49 from my local chain. Hmmmm................what would you (or anyone here) choose if you were unfamiliar with eye care? I would pick absolutely take a shot with the $10 glasses. If they work, fine (and most do), I'm golden. If not, hey, I'm only out $10. With my I-phone eye exam app, I'm complete set for $10. Sure beats $400.

    What is your practice situation EyeCaptain?
     
    Last edited: 06.02.14
  41. 310

    310 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    11.10.12
    Messages:
    160
    Status:
    Optometrist
    I work private (IC) in a big city and am doing numbers that you don't seem to think are possible after one year (or ever?). I am responsible for more pts than 95-99% of optometrists though and have a base of Spanish speaking immigrants. It's niche market stuff that not everyone has a stomach for. Being on the East Coast helps.

    I agree with you for the most part though. Especially for the West Coast. A nice general rule is to avoid empty practices and practices based on vision plans. There are good pockets for optometry, but they aren't everywhere.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  42. ODCareer

    ODCareer

    Joined:
    06.03.14
    Messages:
    1
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field], Attending Physician, Optometrist
    I share many of the same sentiments with the docs above. Although private and corporate practice are by far the most common practice modes, dont be blind to other options that other options that are available to us in the profession. I work in a VA hospital and specialize in ocular disease. Positions such as these are available not only in the VA but also Indian Health Service, Multi-Disciplinary Hospitals, and Group OD/OMD practices (see http://www.odcareer.com/practice-modes/) . While there does tend to be a saturation of OD's in quite a few cities and towns, there are always options out there.
     
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  43. Tippytoe

    Tippytoe 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    08.20.07
    Messages:
    568
    Status:
    Optometrist
    The VA here was willing to pay me a whopping $65,000/yr a while back (while they pay dentists $100,000+). No thanks. The upside is you don't really have to work hard and you can put off patients forever. Not to mention you have a never ending supply patients (vast majority are losers faking disability for free care). I see many VA "disabled" patients in my private office because the docs there won't see more than 8-10 per day I've yet to see one with any missing limbs or serious injures....only mysterious PTSD or back injuries.......you know, the stuff that's impossible to disprove. BTW, I am a veteran myself and hate to see so many people abusing the VA system.

    I have no experience with the Indian Service. Might be a good gig if you want to live away from civilization.
     
  44. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

    Joined:
    01.24.14
    Messages:
    141
    I don't have a practice situation Tippytoe, I only speak from what I hear and observe from others. I'm also not a 23 year old expecting to be handed a comfortable living by virtue of birthright. I don't have nearly the experience you do, but I don't feel a need to submit myself to your anecdotal wisdom. I agree with most everything you've said, as far as the environment of Optometry is concerned. I am not downplaying the challenges you or your peers throughout the country face. We hear about them over and over again. You say a tiny percentage of ODs are happy and successful. The vast majority are "struggling" and the profession is dead. Your own sister-in-law went somewhere else for her eye care needs, therefore loyalty in Optometry is nonexistent. 20DOC20 is bored, therefore Optometry sucks. You've stated over and over facts that I know are true, and problems that everyone knows exist. I just don't see validity in your all-encompassing doomsday rhetoric.

    My point is that Optometry is still a viable profession, and not just for the "lucky few."
     
  45. Tippytoe

    Tippytoe 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    08.20.07
    Messages:
    568
    Status:
    Optometrist
    I don't know what that means? You are an OD or not? Every occupation is a "viable" one if you want it bad enough. Doesn't means it's ideal. Doesn't means it's what you want to do for the next 40 years. Doesn't guarantee a bright future. You could probably be king of the Porta-Potties if you put your mind to it and make a gazillion dollars............but then everyone would refer to you as the "poop-King" :)

    It's not my intention in talking anyone out of a career in Optometry. Just giving a view from reality as I see it and hear it. And it's only worth what you have paid for it.
     
  46. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

    Joined:
    01.24.14
    Messages:
    141
    haha, no I'm starting Optometry school this fall. If I were an unemployed Optometrist my argument would lose some of it's foundation, as strong as it is having no practice experience. I do appreciate your point of view, and I've learned a lot from your posts over the last few months, as well as others. To me "viable" means the possibility to make a good living. I think that is more than possible with this profession.

    I have not given much thought to working my way up the Porta-Potty social strata, but I may just use that as my backup. As honored as I would be to earn the title of Poop King, I prefer Eye Captain. :)
     
  47. hello07

    hello07 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    08.17.07
    Messages:
    381
    Status:
    Optometrist
    EyeCaptain, you can make a good living in Optometry. You can pay your bills, mortgage, car payments and go on vacations, etc.....as long as you are not in 150-200 K student debt.
    Optometry is a wonderful profession. A truly caring profession where you help people improve their lives by utilizing your utmost skills and privileges allowed state to state.
    However, the money in this profession has not caught up to the price of inflation. OD salaries are the same as they have been the past 3-5 even 7 years in most saturated cities.
    If you do medical testing (OCT-VF's-anterior photography-DFE-funds photos, etc.....)then you bill exactly like ophthalmology and get paid more. You have to find a practice to work in like that.
    I'm not here to tell you NOT TO GO TO OD school. Go and do well as long as you come out with minimal debt either from your parents? or yourself.
    The money to be made in this profession IMO the "hey days" are gone. When you get out and become an OD and you can excel above everyone else, then good for you. It will not be an easy task.

    I personally love this field but I wouldn't recommend it to any potential undergrad considering Optometry. In my eyes, it is NOT WORTH IT ANYMORE.
    I can't be more honest with you. And the majority of ODs expressing their opinions are not kidding either.

    GL!
     
    EyeCaptain likes this.
  48. 20DOC20

    20DOC20 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    06.19.10
    Messages:
    146
    Status:
    Optometrist
  49. ophthope

    ophthope Oh Dear, No Venison 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    12.29.11
    Messages:
    387
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Holy crap the AOA and even ASCO allllmost admitted there is an oversupply problem. Must be getting serious. For the OP - take a look at the VERY FIRST comment on that article, by someone that appears to be a practicing O.D.

    To echo the above statements, I think being an O.D. would financially still be a good career path if you came out of Optometry school with exceedingly little to zero debt. I know Podiatrists, Dentists, and a lot of Doctors that all still think that the investment in their education is worth the financial gain (problems with their fields / happiness notwithstanding). My PA and NP friends? Same thing. But I don't know many Optometrists, and the ones I know seem concerned about recommending the field.

    To contrast, I graduated Medical school with the kind of debt that I'm seeing quoted here for Optometry school (~200k). If you run the numbers on likely income figures for M.D. (pick any random specialty) and O.D. incomes, it should be fairly plain which one offers the most secure return on investment. All that to say don't discount medicine instead of optometry as a career. No matter what you specialize in, you shouldn't be twiddling your thumbs for four hours a day though like the lucky poster above gets to do! Especially if you join the ranks of us Ophthalmologists! :pirate:
     
    Last edited: 06.26.14
  50. EyeCaptain

    EyeCaptain

    Joined:
    01.24.14
    Messages:
    141
    To medical school we go!
     
  51. blazenmadison

    blazenmadison 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    01.27.06
    Messages:
    432
    Status:
    Optometrist
    You are the prime example of what most of the ODs here have been trying to warn everyone for years!!!, Sorry but you chose a bad return on investment profession! And sorry to say you can't bankrupt yourself out of federal student loans.

    Rule of thumb: your education should not cost more than one years of salary.
     

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