The topic of today’s post is the most searched term that brings people to my little blog, so I thought I would directly answer the question, “How do I become an optometrist.”
Here are the steps as I see them:
- Go to college and major in any field you want. You will be required to take prerequisite courses before entering optometry school, and most of these courses are taken during a biology-type major. But, you can major in statistics or Spanish, but it will take extra time to graduate AND get all the optometry school prereqs. Don’t let that put you off because if you don’t get into optometry school, you will want a degree that you can use to do something you love. About the only thing you can do with a biology degree besides work for the federal government is work at McDonalds.
- The summer after your second or third year of college, take the OAT and score well. Make sure you check the option to have your scores released to all the optometry schools that you are considering.
- As part of your optometry school application, you have to observe a few optometrists in different practice settings (private, government, research/academic, commercial) for around 30 hours. This takes time, so schedule ahead before your application becomes due. It’s also very important because you may discover that being an optometrist is not for you. That’s a good lesson to learn before you spend huge amounts of money becoming one.
- If you still want to be an optometrist, get your application together and send it in when your fourth year of college starts. There are usually essay questions and a personal statement. Try not to write anything naive. You’ll also need to round up all your official college transcripts. Hopefully you are a fine human being and have cultivated outstanding personal, academic, and work references. I threw in a clergy reference as well. Each optometry school might have a slightly difference process, so please read their website like the careful, well-educated person you are.
- Interested schools will call you up and schedule an interview usually starting around January. You will have to pay your own travel, food, and accomodations, so if you get a lot of interview requests, you may want to prioritize them if you don’t have unlimited funds and time. By the way, do well at the interview.
- Wait for all the offers to pile in, and accept the one you want. I would pray about it. It’s a big decision.
- Spend big money to attend optometry school and pay attention because there is a test later. Spend some more money on your own optometry equipment and reference books.
- Work with a professor that you respect to plan, execute, and write a thesis project during your second year of optometry school.
- Pay your money to take the NBEO 3-part testing and do well.
- During your fourth year of optometry school, you will travel around to different preceptorship sites. You can focus on the type of settings you would like to work in, or better yet, experience several different settings to give you more experience if your preferred setting doesn’t work out right out of school.
- If interested in specializing, you can do an optional optometry residency. During your fourth year you will apply and then be invited to interview for residencies. They are preferred for several modes of practice like government, academia, and LASIK centers. You’ll learn more about this and be able to make an informed decision after being in optometry school.
- Graduate from optometry school
- Apply for optometry licenses in the state(s) you wish to practice in.
Congrats, you would then be a practicing optometrist. For those of you counting at home, that was a minimum eight years of your life after graduating high school. I wish you luck in your quest to find a job and be happy with your career.
Before you can start working, you will need spend money on a license, malpractice insurance, perhaps a DEA number, and apply for all the insurance panels you want to take. If you decide to work for yourself instead of someone else, you’ll need to take care of a whole bunch of business related stuff that is beyond the scope of this post.
Don’t forget you will need to spend a whole bunch of money every year in the racket known as continuing education conventions.