How To Become An Optometrist
It’s a common occurrence today to see people wearing glasses. Many people have vision problems, and require the advice of a doctor to help correct their vision. An optometrist specializes in eye care and health involving the eye. If you love the medical profession and want to help people keep their eyes healthy, a career in optometry may be the right path for you.
Why Become An Optometrist
Optometrists are medical doctors who specialize in the health care of the eyes. Optometrists meet with patients to make sure that the eyes are well taken care of. People go in to visit with optometrists when the need specialized attention to their eye health.
An optometrist will give a patient an eye exam, which tests the functionality of their eye. They will check the patient’s vision, how well they are able to read, and how well they are able to see objects that are close and at a far distance. They may test for eye diseases, such as glaucoma. They will check the overall health of the eye. An optometrist will give prescriptions for the patient. They may write a prescription for contact lenses or eyeglasses. There may be a more intensive treatment involved for the patient, such as vision therapy. In extreme cases, a patient may require surgery. They may refer patients to another type of health professional, such as an ophthalmologist.
People care a lot about their eyes and their vision. Patients rely on health professionals to help them stay healthy and make good informed decisions about their health care. An optometrist is somebody who cares about people and wants to take care of their eyes. This is a great profession for somebody who loves science, enjoys the medical field, is outgoing and compassionate, and finds eye health and vision to be fascinating.
Optometrists should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Active listener
- Good communicator
- Loves science
- Decision maker
- Problem solver
Optometrist Work Environment
Optometrists work in an office environment. They may choose to work in a small office environment, or start their own business, working for themselves. There are also large, national chain optometry offices that an optometrist may work for. An optometrist sees many patients throughout the day. They may talk to patients, perform routine eye exams, diagnose any problems, provide treatments for patients, and provide eye health counseling. This is a job that requires an optometrist to be on their feet throughout the course of the day. They will be directly interacting with people throughout the day.
The median annual salary was $106,140 for optometrists in 2016, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Optometrists are highly specialized doctors. They go through several years of training to perform in their profession. Because of the limit of doctors in this specialty, optometrists often command a high salary. Optometrists often have a lot of debts to pay from their many years of medical school, which is another reason for the salaries they receive. The high insurance costs involved with medical care also determine salary for optometrists.
Optometrist Career Outlook
Positions for optometrists are expected to grow by 27 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is much faster growth than other positions in the United States.
Because of recent changes to the health care system, more people have access to quality health care than ever before. People are making healthy choices and are making visits to their local optometrist office for a visit. People will always need the services of an optometrist, for eye exams and to help with selecting eyeglasses and other corrective lenses. People may also have diseases or illnesses of the eye, which must be evaluated by an optometrist.
If you are interested in becoming an optometrist, read below to find out how.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. A bachelor’s degree is necessary to become a doctor. There are many programs to choose from, including biology, anatomy, health sciences, pre-medical studies, and more. Choose a program that interests you. These classes will give you the information you need to decide if a career in medicine is something you are interested in. It takes four years to receive your bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Medical school. After you complete your undergraduate program, you will need to enroll in a medical school program for your Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. There are about 20 such programs in the United States. Apply to these programs, get accepted, and enroll. These programs will further enhance your knowledge of optometry, combining classroom knowledge with clinical experience. A doctor of optometry program takes three years to complete.
Step 3: Residency. After medical school, an optometrist may complete a specialized program to further their knowledge. Specialties within the field of optometry include pediatric optometry, family practice, ocular disease, and more. Residencies are one year long.