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What do I need to do to become an optometrist?

I am a rising sophomore biology major in college and I am great with memorization. However, I struggled with time management and understanding key concepts.

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Jane’s Answer

I am a Licensed Optician who wishes I had pursued education and went into Optometry School.
Get your BS, then apply to Optometry school. I have worked with many Optometrists the years who mentor students. Contact your optometrist or one in your neighborhood and talk with them. Many of them are more than happy to have you shadow them during their exams or hire you as an technician so you can see firsthand.
4 years undergrad
4 years Optometry school
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice! Anna
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Alyssa’s Answer

Hi Anna! I'm happy to hear you're thinking of pursuing optometry. :) I am a recent graduate and am currently a practicing optometrist.

I think the first step would be to contact an optometrist in your neighborhood and ask to shadow them for a day or so. Like Jane mentioned, many optometrists are more than happy to have you shadow them or talk with them about optometry. In order for you to figure out whether the optometry field is really for you I would encourage you to shadow multiple doctors in different modalities. For example: This can include an optometrist that may work at a private practice and an optometrist that works in a Target. Even though optometrists for the most part have similar duties there may be additional responsibilities at certain offices.

In regards to studying I realize every subject is different in terms of how you may study or how long it may take to fully comprehend the material. Be open to different ways of studying as optometry school really changed the way I studied. I was always someone in undergrad who was comfortable studying by myself but in optometry school I realized group studying for certain classes definitely was advantageous. Instead of memorizing material, focus on understanding the big picture and finding connections between each aspect. I know that sometimes material can be overwhelming and daunting. Stop, breathe and take some time to break it down so you can find connections. In college or optometry school you may have moments where you feel like "omg this is too much." In those moments where it is just a lot go back to the reasons why you are doing what you're doing. Focus on your why, take one day at a time and always remember that your journey may not look like everyone else's and that is a okay.

You got this! Good luck! :)
Thank you comment icon Definitely, I've been working on effective studying routines for different subjects. Thank you, Alyssa! Anna
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Sheila’s Answer

Hi Anna:

Thank you for your question. You've received some great points so far. I'd like to include a few more details and links for your consideration.

Optometrists typically need a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree and a license to practice in a particular state. O.D. programs take 4 years to complete, and most students have a bachelor’s degree before entering such a program. They combine classroom learning and supervised clinical experience. Coursework includes anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, optics, visual science, and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the visual system.

Applicants to O.D. programs also must take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), a computerized exam that tests applicants in four subject areas: science, reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning.

After finishing an O.D. degree, some optometrists complete a 1-year residency program to get advanced clinical training in the area in which they wish to specialize. Areas of specialization for residency programs include family practice, low vision rehabilitation, pediatric or geriatric optometry, and ocular disease, among others.

• Undergrad - 4 year
• OD Program - 4 year
• Residency - 1 year

I hope this info was helpful in getting you started with your research. Best of luck to you!

Sheila recommends the following next steps:

How to Become an Optometrist • https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/optometrists.htm#tab-4
Optomery Admission Test (OAT) • https://oat.ada.org/en
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the info! I will check out the links you gave! Anna
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Rita’s Answer

Lots of great advice has been given. I would add get as much exposure to the career as possible through shadowing optometrists. This demonstrates to optometry schools that you understand the field and are genuinely interested.

Also, work on your "people" skills through other clubs, volunteer work, and employment. Optometry schools want to know that you can relate to people and are developing communication skills.

Finally, start planning on obtaining letters of recommendation. Most optometry schools require a letter from an optometrist, a professor or instructor, and another person like an employer who knows you well.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Anna
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