Optometry or Pharmacy?

Discussion in 'Optometry' started by UT-Frank, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. UT-Frank

    UT-Frank Senior Member
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    I'm currently a junior in Texas and have applied to pharmacy school and gone through the interview already. But after being a officer and learning more and more about the profession, I don't think it's right for me...

    Optometry seems more and more appealing everyday. Is it too late to change? I think optometry will offer me more of that patient - doctor interpersonal interaction I've always yearned for in my prospective career - they say pharm is moving more and more towards clinical but i dont see it.

    When applying (i'll be applying for Fall 2006), would I need to have already taken the required pre reqs? So far I've completed the first part of physics, organic chem, psy, microbiology, and stat. I still need physio and anat (which I plan to take my senior year) Is that a problem do you think? Also, would you guys recommend the calc or alg based physics? Will one have more of a preference over another when they're looking at your app? I also have a C in calculus (my only C) and I've really worried about that. I was always a math person but I don't know what happened... Should I retake it?

    Regarding the OAT, is it as intense as the MCAT? Does anyone recommend the Kaplan course or should I just buy some books?

    Thanks for all of your time! I've been reading through the forums and you've all been great at your responses! I look forward on joining such a great group of young professionals.

    Frank
     
  2. UT-Frank

    UT-Frank Senior Member
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    Also, I plan on declaring a BA Biology degree. Would it be better to go the BS Biology route? Do they really look at what degree you pursue? I was thinking of a Biochemistry degree, but many of the pre reqs don't overlap.

    I look forward to everyone's input!
     
  3. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!!
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    if all you have left is two classes (anatomy and physio) and you're serious about going to optometry school... take those classes and apply for the class of 2009. Your one C won't hurt you (I had several). If you do have any D's in pre-reqs those you'll have to re-take.

    I know many people at UHCO with BA's so that won't hurt you either. I would recommend shadowing an OD for a few days to a week.. or even trying to get part time work with one to make sure this is REALLY what you want to do.

    I started out pre-pharm at UT too... changed to biochemistry.. worked.. then came back to OD school. (sound familiar)?

    Hope this helps ! Feel free to ask me any more questions.. i'm a fellow longhorn and almost at 4th year at UHCO. So, I've been there, done that as far at UT, pharmacy school interviews, pharmacy technicianing, biochemistry, working in biotech, working with ODs, applying, taking the OAT, etc.

    And no, the OAT is NOT as hard as the MCAT. I bought a Kaplan MCAT book to study from for the basic science stuff (since the OAT review sucks). But, I did buy a OAT book to get sample questions from and an outline of what's covered on the test. The OAT is only offered twice a year.. the next one will be in october.

    GOOD LUCK !
     
  4. Ames

    Ames Junior Member
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    Hi UTFrank,

    My brother is a pharmacist and decided to pursue a career in hospital pharmacy for the same reasons of wanting more patient interaction. He does rounds with senior residents, clerks, and nurses, and counsels the team and the patient on treatment. He is sometimes on call, but i don't think very often. It might be a good idea to look into that route if you're still interested in pharm.

    But it's never too late to change if you're really interested in optometry. I myself only really considered it in the past year and applied to OD school after I had already applied to meds. Since i'd already written the mcat, I just used a study guide book to study for the OAT (Complete guide to the OAT; Lipincott, Williams & Wilkins publishers). I found it a bit more straightforward than the mcat, but still a challenge in terms of time (or lack thereof!) especially in the quantitative and reading comp sections. But i've heard that they do that purposely.... If you've already written the mcat, i think you'll be ok :thumbup:

    Goodluck!
     
  5. Richard_Hom

    Richard_Hom Senior Member
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    Hi,
    I actually was accepted to pharmacy school and spent the first few days in it before changing to optometry. I think the patient interaction is is extremely brief in pharmacy. Looking back, I would have proceeded through to a pharmacy PhD rather than stop at the PharmD degree b/c I liked the chem labs immensely.

    Regards,
    Richard_Hom
     
  6. UT-Frank

    UT-Frank Senior Member
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    Thanks for everyone's responses! Keep them coming. Regarding the pre reqs, do those have to be taken before I apply or can I be taking them as I apply (say my senior year during app processing with no grades in yet)?

    Also, physics, would you guys recommend calc or alg based? I've already taken the 1st part of alg but I figured the calc might be of more preference... What do you think?

    Thanks!
     
  7. cpw

    cpw It's a boy !!!
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    you can apply while taking classes..absolutely !

    i would recommend non-calc physics if you don't need calc based for your major. It's definitely easier and you don't need it to get through OD school optics. (all you need for that is basic algebra)
     
  8. J.opt

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    Moreover, I believe that some schools won?t accept the calc-based one, and require you to have the algebra based.
     
  9. eyedream82

    eyedream82 Senior Member
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    wow, did we get new template here? i haven't been back in awhile. www.futureoptometrist.com forum has been shut down by the way.

    in regards to Frank's situation, my situation is the opposite of yours. i will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1 month. i have been accepted to 2 optometry schools already and still waiting for another school to reply. i have second thoughts about optometry lately, i don't know why, but i do. i took the PCAT for pharmacy about 1 month ago and thought it was really easy. i'm not really sure if optometry is what i wanted to do at this point. i mean, even though i've been working for an optometrist for 2 years already, there is a part of me that wasn't sure. i like the profession and all, yes, but i'm worry about the job market when i get out to be honest. right now, i'm thinking of deferring a year and work in a pharmacy and see if i like it. or i might just start optometry this fall. i'm just so undetermine right now.

    if i were you, i would shadow an optometrist, a pharmacist, an MD, etc. Since ur a junior, u got plenty of time to shop for a profession that you like. just have to be sure if you decided to do will make you happy--cuz that's important. wish ya luck.

    By the way, use MCAT books to review for your OAT. trust me, it will help you tremendously. Although the DAT is quite similar to the OAT, but Kaplan MCAT books are the best. Don't waste your money taking the $1600 Kaplan OAT/MCAT Course, might as well take the MCAT if you do that. Best of Luck! :thumbup:
     
  10. Ames

    Ames Junior Member
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    Hi Eyedream,

    Do you know if opto schools will accept that as a reason for deferal? I too have been accepted to one school but am undecided.... I feel your pain! +pity+

    UT-Frank:
    I agree with eyedream that the Kaplan books are the best for studying. the mcat book gives a thorough review of all the sciences. It just lacks the quantitative reasoning stuff, but you can find that in an OAT review book.
     
  11. eyedream82

    eyedream82 Senior Member
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    Ames,

    rumor goes that optometry schools don't like it when you try to defer. i'm sure my reason is not a good one for deferral either. so i might have to risk everything if i decided that i want to pursue something else. still kind of undecided at this point. although i did try to PM some people on here for some opinions, but there wasn't much help either. perhaps i will have to explore on my own to find out.
     
  12. UT-Frank

    UT-Frank Senior Member
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    Eyedream, from what I know, the job market for Pharmacist now is great. Starting salaries start in the range of 60-70k. But I've been talking to several Pharm professor and they told me that with the increase student interest and more and more programs opening up each year, the demand is begin to steadily decrease. With more and more ppl graduating from pharmacy school, the starting salary will decrease in no time.

    But if you're looking into pharmacy, I dont think it offers that much of a sense of satisfaction when it comes to patient care. Sure, there's the clinical route but how many are opting to go that route?

    Just a thought....
     
  13. jdpharmd?

    jdpharmd? Turning lead into gold
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    I think you're dead-on with most of your points. I was always interested in pharmacy, but there was a short time that I really considered optometry school. I finished up my pharmacy pre-reqs at Ferris State (which has both pharmacy and optometry schools). I had several classes with pre-ops who genuinely made me consider op. I also had biochem with the 1st year pharmacy students. I ended up applying and going to pharmacy school, and I love it. I honestly think that I would have been happy doing either one, but I didn't want to get forced into a job that I didn't like. With the current pharm job market, I can work just about anywhere I want.

    The interaction with patients does exist in pharmacy to an extent. The truth is that most people consider the pharmacist the absolute MOST accessible healthcare professional. Where else can you wander in on Sunday, without an appointment, and get advice/products for your children's lice (pinworm, cough, whatever)? It's not like we can give a full physical exam or anything, but people are very appreciative of the little things. Taking someone's blood pressure might not seem like a big deal to you, but they might not have ever gotten it checked otherwise.

    The new buzzword is "clinical pharmacist". I don't have much experience with the position yet, but I know that several large area hospitals do employ "clinical pharmacists" who essentially never touch the actual drugs or spend more than a few minutes per day in the pharmacy. Their job is to visit with patients and counsel them on their meds ALL day long. Those positions are still few and far between.

    From my experience, your salary numbers are a little low. Hospital does generally pay less than retail, but the gap is narrowing. I've never heard of anybody making LESS than $77k/year. I think CVS was STARTING at $90k for a staff pharmacist the last time I asked.

    I'm not advocatiing pharm over op or vice versa. If someone came and told me that I'd be graduating with an op degree instead of a pharm degree, I can't say that I would have a problem with it. :) Good luck with either choice.
     
  14. basilisk312

    basilisk312 Member
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    i think you'll do well with whichever profession you chose, whether it is pharmacy or optometry. good luck to you.
     
  15. UT-Frank

    UT-Frank Senior Member
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    I just found out I got accepted into UT Pharmacy School (2nd in the nation). This just makes my decision so much harder...... I'm thinking of deferring it but I don't have a good reason.... Hopefully, I can shadow optometrist this summer and decide then... Any props for a career in optometry? For the od students, are you liking it? Is it a lot of hands on (dissecting) and pt interaction?
     
  16. christie

    christie Senior Member
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    UT Frank,

    Pharmacy and Optometry are two different careers. If you want to work with patients, go the OD route. Optometry has A LOT of cool gadgets and the Eyes are fascinating :)
     
  17. Caverject

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    Being an OD, you will be more doctor like in your approach. You will make appointments to see your patients, hopefully not have to work weekends unless you work for Walmart. As a pharmacist, you will see patients on a more casual setting but most patients will come to you first about questions. They are very different fields indeed, I hope you realize that you maybe costing another student a spot into the UT program if you decided halfway thru the pharmacy program that it is not for you. You really need to decide. I'm not being mean, but I am being direct.
     
  18. OD.

    OD. Junior Member

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    Being an optometrist is probably the best job in the world( lifestyle, $$, respect, intellectually stimulating, most patients are happy when they come in the door-happier when they walk out the door, patients really appreciate what you are doing for them, good hours(usually), and a DEA #(just kidding). But keep it on the downlow so not everyone starts trying to be one!
     
  19. UT-Frank

    UT-Frank Senior Member
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    I know this is not a reason to go into a field, but I was wondering, what are the starting salary for graduates with O.Ds? What's the average? How's the job market?
     
  20. christie

    christie Senior Member
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    Not sure what the starting salary for new grads is, but I got the following from Optometric Mgmt. March 2004:

    Median net income for 2002: $114,500. Average net income: $132,813

    Highest earning were those in private practice of groups of three to five: $156,000 each

    Optical chain OD's: $110,000

    OD's working for Ophthalmologist's: $125,000
     
  21. jdpharmd?

    jdpharmd? Turning lead into gold
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    Some of your reasons to go INTO op were my reasons NOT to go into op. I know that lifestyle is highly dependant on where you chose to practice, so my experiences won't be the same as everybody else's. My experience was with the typical retail giant. It wasn't wallmart, but it was in the mall so take a guess. Patients came in with an attitude, if they came in at all. One day EVERY person in the appointment book cancelled or didn't show up. Screaming children, or a family of 5 who ALL wanted glasses/contacts that exact minute for $99 weren't uncommon. Customers used to argue about sale prices with the optometrist on a regular basis. Nobody wanted to hear what he wanted to say. They wanted the absolute best deal on price and that was it. Ops frequently worked on weekends (but maybe not Sunday).

    But, to be honest, most of these problems exist in almost any profession. I would estimate that 1 in 2.5 customers complain about prices at my pharmacy. School teaches us to express empathy, but I almost feel like posting a sign that says "Yes, I know your prescriptions are expensive and I'm sorry, but please don't mention it to the staff unless it's correctable." People come to the counter talking on their cell phones, expecting you to try to squeeze words in between their nods. Medicaid patients refuse to pick up FREE antibiotics for their sick children (that taxpayers pay for) because they "don't feel like waiting" or "want to go to mcdonalds" instead.

    The moral of the story: Make sure you take a job with a company/practice that you LIKE. Expect there to be problems with any occupation, but enjoy the good that you do on a daily basis.
     
  22. jdpharmd?

    jdpharmd? Turning lead into gold
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    Salary.com lists:
    Optometrist: Glendale, AZ 25% $67,610 Median $72,725 75% $87,414
    Pharmacist: Glendale, AZ 25% $78,944 Median $84,154 75% $88,612
    I think they're generally considered a little on the low side.
     
  23. christie

    christie Senior Member
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    Not sure how accurate salary.com is..but the statistics I posted were from the American Optometric Association and published in Optometric Management, March 2004.

    From the OD's I spoke with, the salary's I posted was on par with what they make :D
     
  24. SuzQ120

    SuzQ120 Member
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    I was wondeirng if there was a website for that article that discussed the salaries you mentioned?
    thanks!
     
  25. HighlyFanatic

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  26. UT-Frank

    UT-Frank Senior Member
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    I'm still trying to make a decision.... I've accepted my acceptance for pharmacy school just in case (I know this is bad for others trying to get in....I know...and i truly understand...) I'm going to go talk with an optometrist and maybe shadow one this summer. If i like it, seems like I'll decline my admissions and start working on my degree.

    Is a degree necessary? I'm a 2nd year and I'm only 3 bio classes and 1 sem of physics short of the pre reqs.....Should I just go for the degree?

    And regarding physics,...i'm not a physics person. Is physics important on the OAT (i noticed there was a big phy section). How should I prepare for this section?

    Thanks for everyone's help and advice so far! Good luck with finals.

    Frank
     
  27. sammyiu

    sammyiu Junior Member
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    Frank-UT

    I have to say that even just as an intern who has spent the last year seeing patients that being an optometrist is very rewarding. I know that a lot of people have said that if you want lots of patient interaction then OD is the way to go. I don't necessarily agree with this. My best friend is a pharmacist with Walgreens in Houston TX and she gets lots of interaction with patients/customers. Where I think the difference lies is the type of interaction that you are getting. I get to know my patients, have time to chat with them and I like to think that when my patients walk out the door that they feel like I have really listened to what they have been saying and they feel comfortable with the level of care that they have received. I think that with Pharmacy although you will get to help people and do have some interaction with them it will be rare that you get to know anything further about that person than what is ailing them and what meds they are taking to deal with it.

    There is also a lot more clinical decision making in optometry. If my patient walks out the door with a retinal detachment that I have missed or a glaucoma that I didn't diagnose, that is all on me. Of course a pharmacist has a responsibility to their customers to counsel them on their meds but they don't have the responsibility of prescribing those meds and setting a course of treatment.

    These are just a couple of the things that I love about this profession. Hope this helps!
     
  28. Caverject

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    I'm glad to see that the only thing that matters is yourself, while there are other pharmacy students that WANT to be a pharmacist and have no doubt they want to become one are held out because of people like you. I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but I was one of them and it is not pleasent.
     
  29. modelcitizen

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    So bitter. And so scared. Don't worry South, you'll be a fine pharmacist/DO one day. Keep trying.
     
  30. r_salis

    r_salis SDN Supa-Mod Emmetrope
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    It may be a little easier to find a job in pharmacy over optometry (pharmacy people, please correct me if I'm terribly off here...). There are many areas in the US that are over-saturated with ODs that still need PharmDs, particularly some of the larger urban areas -- NYC, SF, LA, etc.
     
  31. emogrrrrl

    emogrrrrl I like my freedom
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    Just be informed that South is already in a program for pharmacy...and is graduating in 2006...hence South2006. It's not bitterness...it's the truth. If you're so undecided as to what you want to do, figure it out before you take up someone else's spot. Shadow whoever it is you need to shadow and make an informed decision prior to applying.
     
  32. jdpharmd?

    jdpharmd? Turning lead into gold
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    Frank,

    I say: If you can get accepted, it's fair. If you apply to medical/law/od/pharmacy schools and get into all of them, then I think you deserve those acceptances. If you really don't know where you want to go until the first day, that's ok. The schools that you don't show up to will figure it out and invite the next person on their list. If that next person really wants to go, then they will drop everything and go to that school. I guess if they are too busy to go, they don't deserve it either. :thumbup:
     
  33. samwY

    samwY Member
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    What do pharmacists do other than make prescribed medicines at a Pharmacy?
     
  34. jdpharmd?

    jdpharmd? Turning lead into gold
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    Here is a GREAT link if you're interested. I think it's about 200 pages of pharmacy jobs. http://www.pfizercareerguides.com/pharmacy.html
    Some of the cooler ones are:
    Primary care pharmacist
    Oncology pharmacist
    Drug information specialist
    Poison control pharmacist
    Academic
    Industry
    Research
    Health law
    Nuclear
    Infectious disease

    In all fairness, asking if all pharmacists do is make prescribed medications is not dissimilar to asking if all ODs do it diagnose and treat eye problems. It's kind of true in a general sense, but there is so much more to it. :thumbup:
     
  35. UT-Frank

    UT-Frank Senior Member
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