jav316

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hello,
i was wondering how people usually get involved with shadowing?

How do you choose who to ask?
How long do you spend shadowing?
(Do you spend the full work-day or half a work day?)
(Do you shadow on more than one occasion with the same OD?)
Have you shadowed more than one OD?
Do you know where I could find more general information about this?

thanks!
 

cunikki

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jav316 said:
hello,
i was wondering how people usually get involved with shadowing?

How do you choose who to ask?
How long do you spend shadowing?
(Do you spend the full work-day or half a work day?)
(Do you shadow on more than one occasion with the same OD?)
Have you shadowed more than one OD?
Do you know where I could find more general information about this?

thanks!
I think that most people either mention that they are interested in being an optometrist when they go for their appointment; or try to go with a friend/family member... a lot of people are willing to let you shadow if you ask...
personally; i just looked through my insurance list of names and found a good name and contacted them;
i spent a couple of afternoons; and one full day shadowing; its mostly the same stuff after awhile ... but usually they just ask each person before their appointment if they mind having a student observe... they are usually okay with it. The OD i shadowed worked in an office with another OD and an OMD so i spent a couple of hours with each of them too; but mostly the same person... just find someone you know and ask; most are really friendly about it
 

UABopt

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jav316 said:
hello,
i was wondering how people usually get involved with shadowing?

How do you choose who to ask?
How long do you spend shadowing?
(Do you spend the full work-day or half a work day?)
(Do you shadow on more than one occasion with the same OD?)
Have you shadowed more than one OD?
Do you know where I could find more general information about this?

thanks!
Shadowing is one of the most important things that you can do. Not only will it help you gain admission to the school of your choice, but perhaps more importantly, it will get first hand experience to see if optometry truly is what you want to do for the rest of your life. Most Americans change their careers several times throughout their lives, you would be much more hard pressed to find a professional who has done the same.

I think that you will find that the vast majority of optometrists are very friendly people. They have all, at one point in time or another, been in the same position that you are in now, and know how intimidating it can be. I would say that most, if they are not too booked or otherwise busy, will allow you the opportunity to shadow. I shadowed for a total of about 80-100 hours (try to keep a log btw). Some people shadow more, some less. I think it is really a personal choice. The schedule is really up to you and the optometrist that you shadow. I don't think that it really makes much difference, other than you want to be in the clinic when it is most busy so that you can actually see something.

For me finding people to shadow was relatively easy. I joined AMSA (as there was no real optometry organization at my school). There I met some other students and found out that there was a group practice in town that was very friendly to shadowing. I called the office to ask if there would be an opportunity for me to shadow, and showed up a few days later to meet with the Doctors. I brought a resume and set up a schedule to shadow. Often times, shadowing opportunities turn into volunteer work, or even a part time paid job.

On another occasion when I was home for the summer and really did not have a personal relationship with any optometrists, I decided it would be a good idea to see how the "other side" (ie commercial) of optometry works. I walked into a commercial establishment, spoke to the secretary, and then to the Doctor. While I only shadowed there a total of about 16 hours it was invaluable to see the contrast.
 
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jav316

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thank you for your responses! i wasn't sure how to pursue this and appreciate your ideas, suggestions, and experiences :)
 

tamathat

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I had a hard time finding friendly optometrists. I was frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm that current od's had towards me following them around. Most said they just weren't busy enough for me to learn anything, but I think it was more of an excuse.

I eventually wrote out a letter explaining my desire to shadow and dropped it off at 5 different offices. One doctor responded a few weeks later. He lets me come in every week. I have continued going to the office and have learned a lot about the profession.

I really recommend shadowing. I am soooooo happy when I leave that office every week. I cannot wait to finish school and have an office and patients of my own! Shadowning is really motivating and reminds me why I am busting my butt in school every day.
 

HYCW

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You might want to look into hospitals nearby, especially research/university ones. They more than likely have an OD on staff, and you can try to sneak in some time with an OMD too. The doctors here may also be more used to students shadowing them. For me in LA, I contacted both UCLA and USC's eye center volunteer offices, explained that I was pre-opt and was very interesting in learning more about the profession, and people were so helpful. However, because it's a hospital, they require a more significant time commitment. (For ex, I've been going in once a week for 4 hours for the past year.) It's been an amazing experience though, especially seeing how ODs and OMDs interact.
 

al-majhul

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jav316 said:
hello,
i was wondering how people usually get involved with shadowing?

How do you choose who to ask?
How long do you spend shadowing?
(Do you spend the full work-day or half a work day?)
(Do you shadow on more than one occasion with the same OD?)
Have you shadowed more than one OD?
Do you know where I could find more general information about this?

thanks!
I'll tell you my story -- because I like telling stories and I'm long-winded (long-fingered, rather, seeing as I'm typing)...

I had a rather difficult time trying to find someone to shadow for some reason (that may have something to do with the fact that I was also looking for a doctor who might consider hiring me for an optician-type position -- and I told them that; albeit I was willing to work for minimum wage). I started by going through the phone-book, one name at a time. When I got through it and found nobody was interested, I decided on an alternate method. Essentially, what I did was get the email addresses of about 30 doctors in my area via the internet. It doesn't really matter who you shadow, so go wild. Make sure to have a resume handy for faxing.

The first doctor to respond wasn't sure if he could give me a position, but he'd let me shadow at his group practice (note: you may want to shadow more than one doctor in a variety of practice settings; ie, group, solo, etc. Schools like to see that you've seen the differences between the modes of practice). I spent a total of about 10 hours with him -- split up into 2-3 hour sessions per day.

After that, I received a response from one doctor who worked at a Target (solo/corporate-setting). She actually told me she was in the process of opening a new office, and she could use an assistant. So I did about 15-20 hours of observation at her Target office (also in 2-3 hour/day sessions) and that landed me a job with her in the new office. (Some schools require that you have 30 or so hours of unpaid observation, so make sure you find out that info. from the school's application requisites pages -- links to all the schools are available on www.opted.org)

So now I work 35 hrs/week -- YAY!! :D -- often I'm the only one at the office, because the doctor splits her time between the new office and Target -- and I handle basically everything except that actual exams, from insurances, to frame-neutralizing, etc. All this, mind you, is at a brand-new and growing office. Schools were PARTICULARLY impressed by the fact that I've been part of the practice since its birth, because I really have a pretty good insight into what it takes to get a business going -- so that may be something you'll want to consider (finding a doctor with a brand new office I mean).

On a side note, I didn't really have to use this tip, but I hear it's useful. Offer to take the doctor out to lunch to just talk optometry -- their thoughts on the field, their experiences, etc. -- it's a good way to build a relationship with them (which is important come time to ask them for a letter of rec).

So that's my story....and I'm sticking to it. ;)

~ al-majhul
 

Ning

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Hi,

Several people on the forum have said that they have worked as an optician. I thought you needed to go to two years of school for that? It sounds like great experience though.
 

al-majhul

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Ning said:
Hi,

Several people on the forum have said that they have worked as an optician. I thought you needed to go to two years of school for that? It sounds like great experience though.
Hey Ning,
I do know that years back (here in California), opticians fought rather hard to make opticianry a licensed profession. Today one does need to go to school and take an exam to get licensed. However, it seems (from my own experience) that optometrists are given the right to hire anyone they choose -- licensed or not. I never had ANY experience, no schooling in dispensing whatsoever, prior to my experience shadowing. I learned everything I needed during my few hours volunteering with licensed opticians (and, honestly, anybody with experience using a microscope can learn how to use a lensometer within minutes). I would NEVER, however, refer to myself as an optician -- I would say that I do optician-type stuff, but am not an optician. :D

Finally, you're right, it is a GREAT experience; I would go so far as to say that it's been an experience that is indispensable <- pun intended ;)
 

futuredoctorOD

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al-majhul said:
I'll tell you my story -- because I like telling stories and I'm long-winded (long-fingered, rather, seeing as I'm typing)...

I had a rather difficult time trying to find someone to shadow for some reason (that may have something to do with the fact that I was also looking for a doctor who might consider hiring me for an optician-type position -- and I told them that; albeit I was willing to work for minimum wage). I started by going through the phone-book, one name at a time. When I got through it and found nobody was interested, I decided on an alternate method. Essentially, what I did was get the email addresses of about 30 doctors in my area via the internet. It doesn't really matter who you shadow, so go wild. Make sure to have a resume handy for faxing.

The first doctor to respond wasn't sure if he could give me a position, but he'd let me shadow at his group practice (note: you may want to shadow more than one doctor in a variety of practice settings; ie, group, solo, etc. Schools like to see that you've seen the differences between the modes of practice). I spent a total of about 10 hours with him -- split up into 2-3 hour sessions per day.

After that, I received a response from one doctor who worked at a Target (solo/corporate-setting). She actually told me she was in the process of opening a new office, and she could use an assistant. So I did about 15-20 hours of observation at her Target office (also in 2-3 hour/day sessions) and that landed me a job with her in the new office. (Some schools require that you have 30 or so hours of unpaid observation, so make sure you find out that info. from the school's application requisites pages -- links to all the schools are available on www.opted.org)

So now I work 35 hrs/week -- YAY!! :D -- often I'm the only one at the office, because the doctor splits her time between the new office and Target -- and I handle basically everything except that actual exams, from insurances, to frame-neutralizing, etc. All this, mind you, is at a brand-new and growing office. Schools were PARTICULARLY impressed by the fact that I've been part of the practice since its birth, because I really have a pretty good insight into what it takes to get a business going -- so that may be something you'll want to consider (finding a doctor with a brand new office I mean).

On a side note, I didn't really have to use this tip, but I hear it's useful. Offer to take the doctor out to lunch to just talk optometry -- their thoughts on the field, their experiences, etc. -- it's a good way to build a relationship with them (which is important come time to ask them for a letter of rec).

So that's my story....and I'm sticking to it. ;)

~ al-majhul
I am shadowing 3 OD's in different settings--one in private practice, one interdisciplinary, one in commercial. Does this help my application? I am also getting letters of reccomendation from all of them.....
 

PLPrincess

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futuredoctorOD said:
I am shadowing 3 OD's in different settings--one in private practice, one interdisciplinary, one in commercial. Does this help my application? I am also getting letters of reccomendation from all of them.....

I suppose it depends on how many hours you put into each one...it's good though that you're getting such a broad view of the field.
 

al-majhul

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futuredoctorOD said:
I am shadowing 3 OD's in different settings--one in private practice, one interdisciplinary, one in commercial. Does this help my application? I am also getting letters of reccomendation from all of them.....
Shadowing multiple OD's in different settings is DEFINITELY a GOOD idea.

Getting letters of rec from each isn't really necessary. The 5 schools I applied to asked for only two to three letters of rec. These were most often from (1) a science professor, (2) an optometrist, and (3) "someone else." That someone else could be specified (ie., an academic/project advisor, an employer, etc.) or it could be left unspecified (you choose: could be a second OD). Some of the schools said you're welcome to send even more letters in, other schools said "WE WILL NOT READ ANYMORE THAN THE FIRST THREE LETTERS YOU HAVE SENT TO US." Each school is different. Some schools (none that I applied to) also required a fourth letter -- could be another professor, or another OD. Once you know which schools you want to apply to, look up their reqs on their website (links to each school are available at www.opted.org) and find out just what you need.

Finally, try to feel out the doctors and figure which would write you the best letter of rec. Good indicators are how much time they're willing to spend with you, and how much time they explain stuff to you (and if they seem happy explaining it).
 

PharmDr.

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I am shadowing 3 diff. ODs also now. One of the OD's I am shadowing works at St. Lukes Cataract and Lasik Eye Center in tarpon springs, FL which is where Dr. Gills, the founder of Lasik works. The practice is actually more like a hospital b/c its so big. There are 7 OD's there and are all very nice. Another OD I am shadowing has 3 offices and has been a professor at 4 opt. schools. He practices with glaucoma as a specialty. He even does FB removals. In my state of fl., oral meds are not allowed unlike the other 47 that do. I am learning so much in only 2 days of shadowing thus far. The other OD works at LensCrafters in the mall and has new technology that takes a picture of the eye so he can easily see the entire retina and then he can diagnose off his computer. I believe it is called optcon. I just got dressed up and walked up to the offices and all were very glad to have someone interested in opt. Good luck.
 

Phillygirl98

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Al-mahjul

Are you an optician then at a Target cause that's what Im doing now. I love working there. I basically went in looking for an optician job to give me somethign to do for a year before I went back to school. It's a lot of fun. I basically do what u do..all the insurance stuff, measure and fit people for glasses, phones, orders, etc...how cool..and yeah I work like 35-40 hours a week now too..haha.. :) It's not the greatest pay but it's the experience there I love.
 

al-majhul

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Phillygirl98 said:
Al-mahjul

Are you an optician then at a Target cause that's what Im doing now. I love working there. I basically went in looking for an optician job to give me somethign to do for a year before I went back to school. It's a lot of fun. I basically do what u do..all the insurance stuff, measure and fit people for glasses, phones, orders, etc...how cool..and yeah I work like 35-40 hours a week now too..haha.. :) It's not the greatest pay but it's the experience there I love.
Phillygirl,
No, I'm not at Target -- although I was trained by the opticians at Target. See, the doctor I work for has an office at Target and she opened a new independent office in a mall. Before it opened, I shadowed her at Target and the Target opticians taught me all I'd need to know for the new office at the mall. But I do love it! :)
 
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