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lets get this forum goin..

Discussion in 'Optometry' started by ithinkso, Mar 7, 2001.

  1. ithinkso

    ithinkso Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 16, 2001
    HI... everyone lets start using this forum.

    i had few questions.
    --I wanted to know if anyone knew how hard optometry schools are?
    --and the competition to these schools? range of stat would be useful.
    --is there a residency of any kind in optometry?
    --as a profession is it a very uhmm.. fulfilling career? do you have time to pursue different interests?
    --any thing on the OAT would be nice too

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  3. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 17, 2001
    Portland, OR
    Last year I applied to two optometry programs (SUNY and Pacific University). I was accepted but decided not to attend and will be applying to medical schools this years. Here is some information on application statistics. Some of this information is from a previous posts in the EVERYONE forum.

    Optometry School is fairly competitive, but probably not to the same degree as medical school. There are fewer students applying. There are only 17 schools in the U.S. and class size ranges from 22 (Univ of MO-St. Louis) to 174 (Illinois College of Optometry) averaging about 82 students per class.

    According to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, there were 7,547 application for the 1,402 seats for the 1999 entering class at all 17 schools of optometry (16 in the mainland U.S. and one in Puerto Rico). A total of 2,628 individuals applied.

    Instead of the MCAT you take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) which is, in my opinion, an easier test. Average GPA's for accepted students are a bit lower than medical schools but still quite high - average about 3.36. The top O.D. schools (Berkeley, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham, and Ohio State are known to have the highest admissions standards) have averages GPA's of around 3.5.

    The OAT is four sections long: Reading Comprehension (just like the MCAT), Physical Sciences, Natural Sciences (a.k.a. Biology and Organic Chemistry), and Quantitative Reasong. The Quantitative section is one major difference between OAT and MCAT (it's always suprised me that there isn't more math on the MCAT). Also, the physical and biological science sections are not passage based like the MCAT but rather are just a series of questions. I feel it requires more remembered knowledge than the MCAT...the MCAT is more an applied knowledge kind of test. But it is not terribly difficult if you know your core sciences well. The Math section is very similar to the Math on the SAT but only a little more difficult - similar to the Math GRE section. If you get a degree in something like Math or Physics you will find the Math section laughably easy. If math isn't your thing it might be a bit difficult.

    The pre-requisite courses required tend to be a bit more thorough than for medical school. For example, many optometry schools require you to take Anatomy and Physiology. They usually require coursework in Psychology and some require Statistics. One school even requires a Business class. So if you are planning to go to optometry and you're just starting your undergrad, be sure to check out what pre-requiste courses are needed so that you can cover everything as you go through undergrad.

    At many schools you can combine O.D. with M.S. in a vision-related area and some of the big state schools grant Ph.D.'s usually in Vision Science.

    Tutions range from the lowest instate at Oklahoma's Northeastern State University at $5,150 per year to Univ of MO St. Louis' non-resident tuitition of $28,014 per year. Most of the private schools are around $20,000 per year.

    No residency is necessary to be a fully-licensed and practicing optometrist. However, there are many residency programs available if an individual wants to practice a specialty (i.e., sports vision, pediatrics, binocular, low-vision, etc.).

    In my opinion, here are the advantages of optometry as compared with medicine:

    -- you often have more time for patient interaction as an O.D., none of this 5-minute in and out business.

    -- it's a very cut and dried profession. Most of the time you go to work at 8 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. There are very few emergency calls or "odd" working hours necessary.

    -- it's pretty clean. Some people want to be in the health field but just don't like the "icky stuff". Not much of that in optometry.

    -- Rarely must you be the bearer of bad news (beyond the fact that you need a stronger prescription). Sure there are glaucoma cases and occassionaly O.D.'s will discover the presence of some neural disorder, but most of the time patients leave pretty happy.

    -- It is possible to make a fair sum of money depending on the location and scope of practice. It is not unheard of to have O.D.'s making $150,000+ per year although $75,000 is more realistic.

    -- The education of an O.D. is quite rigorous (four years beyonds a bacherlor's) and once your are finished with your four years (and pass the national boards) you can practice. There are residencies available if your want to specialize but it is not required. So the advantage over an M.D. degree here is a shorter (yet still thorough) education.

    -- The field is changing and expanding. Beyond the standard "Is it better like this or is it better like this" O.D.'s now do lots of pre- and post-operative care for LASIK and PRK surgery patients. In some states trained O.D.'s can perform some minor corrective "surgeries". O.D.'s treat medical eye disorders. However, there are some that say all this corrective surgery is cutting into O.D.'s income as sales of glasses and contact lenses go down but I have yet to see valid statistics showing this is the case.

    But after all these good things (and I'm sure there are many more that I just can't remember at the moment) I decided not to pursue optometry but instead go into medicine. My reasons for doing this include:

    -- the limited scope of practice. Although I find the eyes and vision quite fascinating, it's a narrow field. I think I want to do more and I may find other things out there that are even more interesting.

    -- some O.D.'s express concern that they are not treated with the same respect as M.D.'s treat each other. Also, often the public misunderstands the roles of optometrists, opticians, and ophthalmologists in health care. I think this is similar to the concern some osteopathic physicians have about their field. This is more an education issue (I mean education of the public, not the doctor) and it's a shame that such a wonderful field as optometry has such a bad rap.

    -- the job can be tedious if you are not into the clinical aspect of the profession. I spoke with some optometrists that only give glasses/contacts presecriptions. If they find any medical condition at all, they refer them. I wouldn't like to soley do vision checks all day but for others it's heaven.

    -- the cost of the education is about the same as in medicine and I feel my "return on investment" would be worse going into optometry. This not because there is anything wrong with being an optometrist but after four years of medical school I'll still have some choice about what I want to do. After four years of optometry school, I'm stuck being an O.D.

    -- the re-training aspect is worse for O.D.'s. I know of M.D.'s that were specialists in one area and after a few years they found they didn't like it, so they went back into a residency in a different field and changed specialties. Certainly this isn't common but it is possible. O.D.'s don't have that luxury. They're stuck treating vision problems.

    If you can't tell, I've though a lot about this. I think I'm making the right decision, but I'm me and I'm sure others will (and do) find optometry to be a wonderfully fulfilling career that is an integral part of total health care.

    Hope this helps.

  4. gpannu

    gpannu Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 11, 2001
    Hey mpp nice reply. Thanks, it was very infromative. I also was looking in to optometrey as a backup to an MD career. I am from Canada and we have fewer schools than the U.S. for meds and opt. Also, its diffuicult to get admission into the U.S. if U are not a citizen or resident. Anyhow, the main reason I am choosing med over opt is b/c I think optometrey is to limited for me. It focues on one organ of the body. I would rather deal with the entire body. However I did not know about these residency options O.D's had. I thought they just prescribed lenses. How are the average salries in the U.S. ....Also If I take the MCAT in the summer and write the OAt the following October do you think I would be ready the OAT, provided that I'm prep for the MCAT in august.
  5. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 17, 2001
    Portland, OR
    If you feel comfortable with the MCAT, you should be more than comfortable with the OAT. The OAT is more straightforward than MCAT. Do remember that the OAT has a math section. More than a skills test, I think it is a speed test. You have to work fast to complete the math section in the time allotted.

    As far as salaries in the U.S.:

    From the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook ( ):


    Not a ton of money considering that the school is four years and is comparable to medical school in terms of monetary cost. It is a great profession and worthy of consideration for anyone interested in healthcare.
  6. drbizzaro

    drbizzaro Varilux/Essilor Advocate 7+ Year Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    optom schools are as hard as med schools...
    there is a residency that you can do as well....
  7. al-majhul

    al-majhul UCBSO c/o 2009 5+ Year Member

    Jan 28, 2005
    seriously, drbizzaro, i know you're bizzaro and all -- but you're taking this whole thing a bit too far, no? why are you trying to revive old posts? it's only confusing people.
  8. drbizzaro

    drbizzaro Varilux/Essilor Advocate 7+ Year Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    i dont see the harm in it... plus, it brings back some good memories for those of us who were here back then
  9. erborowiec

    erborowiec Junior Member

    Aug 22, 2005
    dr bizzaro.
    i ve been reading your posts and by the looks of all the stupid and offensive comments you seem to have for just about everything, i m wondering how you could possibly have time to study at your ever so difficult school?
    you have a lot of growing up to do little one... and i d be willing to bet you are not a dr so dont call yourself one
  10. PreOptMegs

    PreOptMegs Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I am sorry, but I was reading this and I just had to correct a comment made on this forum. UMSL's class size is 40-45, not 22. I am going to undergrad at UMSL and am hopefully going there for Optometry school, so I just had to correct it..............

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