Your Guide to Becoming an Optometrist
Optometry is the field that examines the eyes for disease and prescribes glasses and contact lenses. Optometrists are often referred to as "eye doctors" and must complete an undergraduate degree and a four-year course of study in an optometry program. Graduates are awarded a Doctor of Optometry degree, abbreviated OD.
1. Focus on Science Courses in Undergraduate Studies
Because optometry is a branch of the medical field, the courses in optometry programs are heavily science-based. Therefore, it is advantageous for students considering this profession to take as many science courses during undergraduate studies as possible. Anatomy, biology, physics and chemistry are all important courses to consider and many of these courses are required as a prerequisite for applying to optometry school.
2. Research Optometry Schools
It is important to research optometry programs across the country as an undergraduate student so that you know where you can apply when the time comes. You can look at a list of the prerequisite courses required to apply to those programs as a guide to making your schedule each semester. It is a good idea to have more than one school in mind so that you are flexible about which schools you can apply to. If there is not an optometry school in your state, you may get a waiver that keeps you from having to pay out-of-state tuition.
3. Focus on Community Service for Your Resume
Any type of professional program that you apply for will want to see community service as part of your application. While community service should not be done solely to have something on your resume, a lot of community service does give you an advantage when applying for higher learning programs. The schools want to see that you are willing to serve others, as this is an asset to any medical practitioner. Research community service organizations that are involved in a cause that you support and want to be a greater part of.
4. Apply for an Optometry Program
You typically apply for entry into an optometry program in your last year of undergraduate studies. You will take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) before you apply, as this score can greatly impact your chances of getting into optometry school. Be sure that you send all forms and transcripts in with your application in a timely manner so that an application deadline does not pass you by. Do not be discouraged if you are not accepted on your first try; many people have to apply more than once. If you do not get in on your first attempt, consider taking a gap year to study for the OAT and to do more community service. Alternatively, you can apply for a master's level program to continue your undergraduate studies while you wait to reapply to your program.
5. Work Hard and Graduate
Once you are accepted into optometry school, buckle down for those four years and graduate. It is hard work but will be worth it when you walk across the stage in your cap and gown. Do not feel discouraged if you struggle in some classes. This is normal, and most people feel discouraged at some point during the program. Ask for help when you need it, and do not be embarrassed to admit to your professor that you do not understand a concept.
6. Begin Your Career
Optometry is a diverse field that can afford you with many career options throughout your life. While many eye doctors work in clinics, you can also work in research to better products available for consumers like those at contactlensesplus.com. One look at the site shows many different types of contact lenses available, and an optometrist has to assist in the research and development of these products.
Optometry can be a very rewarding field. With the right steps in place, you can be on your way to a successful venture in this career.