Working in Optometry school?

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2+ Year Member
Apr 28, 2020
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Hi! I'm just curious to know if students work during optometry school and whether it's a good/bad idea. Are people in your class doing well while working and what is the range of work days a student should aim for? I'm not sure if working during school is worth reducing the loans.

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Years 1-3 I worked around 30 hours per work. We usually had one day off (or nearly the whole day on Thursday) from classes.

My work hours usually were Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri 6-9pm, Thursday/Saturdays 8 hrs each, and Sunday 5 hours.
Total work week was 3+3+3+8+3+8 (sat) + 5 (sunday) = 33 hours per week.

4th year was different b/c of externships and I could only work M-F 3 hours each from 6-9pm, and kept the weekends the same.
Total work week was 3+3+3+3+3+8 (sat) + 5 (sunday) = 28 hours per week.

The great thing about Target Optical at that time I could study during those hours a lot since the Optometrist usually left at 5pm. Saturday was my only really busy day. It helped me focus and use my time wisely but all of this came at a price of not being able to go out at night or the weekends.

My biggest regret was living by myself during year 2, 3 and 4. If I could have learned to live with 1-2 room mates it would have cut my loan size down by a lot more.
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I think it's possible but you'd have to find something with flexible hours. I'm not sure how the person above me worked 30 hours per week, must be really good with time management!

Yeah, we get maybe 1 or 2 days off (besides the weekend), and not all classes are mandatory, but those are the days I schedule to meet up with people to practice any clinical skills we've learned. Every week in optometry school is different, each with a new set of challenges.

I think it's important not to overwork yourself! Personally, I am mentally exhausted most days to even consider working. See how your fall semester goes and if you think you can tackle a job then go for it!
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This really depends on your school. Year 1 we had M-F classes 8-4 some days and 8-4 with 2-hour gap other days. I managed to end early twice a week so I worked after class and weekends, but only like 8-12 hours a week. Year 2 I had a three-day weekend first semester so I worked a little more. I also worked holidays. Year 3 I had clinic 4 days and class 5 days including a weekend, so I had to quit just before. In all I was spending around 50 hours in class or lecture already, and I really could not keep up with working.

Everyone is different too. While I chose to work years 1-2, some classmates could not work and do everything else they wanted to do. I think it's highly dependent on your personality, your schedule, your other priorities and extracurriculars, and the flexibility of your job.
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You're going to earn 10x the rate you would after you graduate compared to working while in optometry school.

If you are going to work, do at most 8 hours a week at some on-campus job, and make it meaningful work that can build some skills one day rather than something like flipping burgers. Even working at an optometry office sounds not worth it since you'll just be doing tech work that you don't need to do, and will likely be far away from the school.

And never put work before your grades.
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My situation with Target Optical was amazing. My boss loved that I would close each night and most of the time from 7-9pm I was just studying. Sunday was from Noon-5pm and again it was mostly studying. There were times that I would work less because I wanted more time to practice skills with classmates or have clinical hours in the evening time. I knew in Optometry school I didn't need a 4.0 GPA anymore although I still did fine and passed all three boards on my first attempt. What I did isn't ideal for every single student but it made me focus and prioritize my week.

I tried really hard the first year to live with two room mates but it wasn't great. Messy room mates just wasn't something I could tolerate.

Furthermore I think its great to work in an Optical for a year to gain experience with adjusting glasses. Its definitely helped me with problem solving with patients after I got out of OD school.
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Hi! I am a student at UMSL College of Optometry in St. Louis. About 1/2 of my class has a job whether it be on-campus or off-campus. Our on campus jobs are limited to 5-10 hrs due to the course load. For us, on campus position include lab TA positions, tutoring positions, clerical student services positions, or working in research. Some other students work in optometric/ophthalmology offices around St. Louis as opticians or techs typically only during a Saturday.
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