Optometrist - How to Become an Optometrist

Optometrist

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Optometrist Job Description

 

An optometrist provides primary medical and health care for the eye, ranging from certain types of surgery to vision therapy, prescribing medications, carrying out low vision rehabilitation, and writing prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists diagnose and treat eye injuries, problems, and diseases, and can also pinpoint systemic problems (like diabetes) causing eye disorders that require treatment by other specialists.

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Responsibilities

 

Optometrists provide counseling to patients regarding treatments, whether non-surgical or surgical. When surgery is needed, they handle both pre- and post-operative care. While optometrists carry out some surgical procedures, they usually refer patients to ophthalmologists for surgical treatments. Likewise, while they prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses after testing a patient's vision, the prescription is actually filled by a dispensing optician.

Optometrists often enjoy the benefits of profitable and successful self-employment, and suffer less stress than other medical specialists thanks to their regular hours and the high cure rate of the disorders they treat.

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Skills

 

Critical Thinking

Must think of alternative solutions to complex problems as they arise.

Understand Complex Medical Data

Must be able to know how to manipulate complex medical data and know how to decipher it.

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to solve complex problems by reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options.

Analysis

Must be able to analyze different situations to determine outcomes or solve issues. 

Detail-Oriented

Pay attention to detail so as to determine any problems and fix them or to discover things many others wouldn't notice

Communication

Be able to work and communicate with people on your team to solve problems and create positive outcomes.

Math & Science

Must be able to use math to solve complex problems. Must have a strong scientific background to know natural processes and how they can be manipulated.

Systems Analysis and Evaluation

Must know how a system should work and how changes in it's operations and conditions can affect outcomes. Must be able to evaluate the issues and fix their problems

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Working Conditions

 

Most optometrists have their own offices, where they work independently, generally on a 40 hour weekly schedule. Since these offices are set up as a comfortable environment for patients and workers, an optometrist works in clean, well-lit, attractively furnished surroundings.

Accommodating clients' schedules is important, so many optometrists offer evening and Saturday hours. With new therapeutic medicine laws permitting optometrists to prescribe drugs, emergency and after-hour calls are becoming much more common.

 


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How to Become an Optometrist:

 

Becoming an optometrist usually involves eight years of education, beginning with a bachelor's degree with a science emphasis. Most optometrists take courses in biology, inorganic chemistry, anatomy or physiology, organic chemistry, physics, calculus, statistics, and similar topics during their undergraduate study to prepare for their career.

A four-year academic program at an optometry school follows, with admission dependent on success at the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), administered at Prometric Center Testing Centers. Successful completion of the four-year optometry program makes you an OD, but you must still pass a clinical and possibly written exam provided by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) before acquiring full licensure.

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

To become an Optometrist, you must first earn a Bachelor's Degree. It would be a good idea to take a pre-med program course in college as you need courses heavy in math and science. The courses differ depending on which path you choose, but some of the courses are the same, mainly the math, sciences, and some psychology courses. You need to make sure you get the proper pre-requisites for Optometrist school.

A course load for pre-med might look like the following: 

 

Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • English 101
  • English 102
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab

Sophomore Year

  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab
  • Genetics
  • Physiology 
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Cell Structure & Function
  • General Virology & Lab
  • Microbial Genetics & Lab
  • Biochemistry I
  • Biochemistry II
  • Physics
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Upper Level Biology
  • Upper Level Chemistry
  • Upper Level Physics
  • Upper Level Psychology
  • Upper Level Kinesiology 
  • Electives

 

 

2. Pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

 

To get into an Optometry Program, you have to pass the OAT. The test consists of four individual tests that gauges your knowledge of science, physics, and math. You can take the test as many times as you need, but must wait 90 days between each attempt. The test consists of the following:

 

Section/Category  Section Breakdown
Biology 
  • 40 questions
  • Covers genetics, biodiversity, Cell and molecular biology, evolution, ecology and behavior, and systems biology
Reading Comprehension
  • 40 questions
  • Tests ability to
    comprehend, organize, analyze, and remember the information
  • Each reading passage is 800-1000 words in length and is followed by 13-16 items, which can be answered from
    a reading of the passage. The total number of items for all three passages is 40

Quantitative Reasoning

  • 40 questions
  • Tests probability and statistics, algebra, numerical calculations, geometry, trigonometry 
General Chemistry
  • 30 questions
  • Tests general concepts, solutions, solids and liquids, acids and bases, periodic table
Organic Chemistry
  • 30 questions
  • Tests nomenclature, properties of molecules, bonding, reactions, mechanisms
Physics
  • 40 questions
  • Tests knowledge of vectors, stats, kinematics, electrostatics, circuits, optics, waves, etc.

 

 You can find more OAT resources here.

 

3. Complete an Optometry Program (4 Years)

 

An optometry program consists of classroom instruction and clinical training under the supervision of a licensed optometrist. If you want to specialize in an certain area, you will need to spend an additional year in a fellowship program where you will get more training in a clinical setting. 

The program is a four-year program that leads to a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree.

The curriculum emphasizes direct hands-on patient and ends with full clinical rotations during the fourth year. The program supports different learning styles with instruction including lectures, laboratories, small group case-based learning, clinical education, and service learning.

The over-arching themes of programs include:

  • Patient care
  • Integration of basic and clinical sciences
  • 21st Century Technology
  • Interprofessional education in collaboration with other health disciplines
  • Preparation for entry-level optometry care along with a special emphasis on neuro-science and neuro-optometry

 

4. Earn the Required Licensed and Certification

 

To practice as an optometrist, you must get your license which varies by state. Check your state for requirements. In addition to earning an OD from an accredited program, one must pass the National Boards of Optometry, a four part exam administered by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
SUMMARY: Position is located Redwood Falls, MN. -do not have to live in Redwood Falls though. Avera Medical Group Redwood Falls is seeking an Optometrist to join our team of eye care specialists. Avera Medical Group...
12.05.2016
Optometrist Apply Refer a Friend Back Category: Physician Location: Malden, MA Department: PSC PO Physician Recruitment Employment Type: Full Time Hours/Week: 40 Date Posted: 11/18/2016 Requisition Number: 100736 Job...
12.05.2016
The Optician is responsible to deliver the highest of customer service standards for patients and families presenting for Ophthalmology services. The Optician will assist patients with selecting frames, reading prescriptions for lenses, ordering...
12.05.2016
This position contributes to the nursing assessment by collecting, reporting, and documenting objective and subjective data. This position also participates in the development of the Nursing component of the plan of care at the direction of an...
12.07.2016
Ophthalmic Technician II Apply Refer a Friend Back Category: Allied Health Location: Somerville, MA Department: Ophthalmology Employment Type: Per Diem Job Type: Non-Union Work Shift: Days Work Days: 8:00am-4:30pm Date...
12.05.2016
Ophthalmic Technician - Full Time - Days Hours - M-F 8am- 5pm Travel to Baptist campus once a week This job provides individualized, direct patient care of assigned patients under the supervision of a licensed healthcare provider. Assists...
  1. Optometrist Marshall, MN Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center
    SUMMARY: Position is located Redwood Falls, MN. -do not have to live in Redwood Falls though. Avera Medical Group Redwood Falls is seeking an Optometrist to join our team of eye care specialists. Avera Medical Group...
  2. Optometrist Cambridge, MA Cambridge Health Alliance
    Optometrist Apply Refer a Friend Back Category: Physician Location: Malden, MA Department: PSC PO Physician Recruitment Employment Type: Full Time Hours/Week: 40 Date Posted: 11/18/2016 Requisition Number: 100736 Job...
  3. Optician Winona, MN Winona Health
    The Optician is responsible to deliver the highest of customer service standards for patients and families presenting for Ophthalmology services. The Optician will assist patients with selecting frames, reading prescriptions for lenses, ordering...
  4. STAFF LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE Cincinnati, OH TriHealth
    This position contributes to the nursing assessment by collecting, reporting, and documenting objective and subjective data. This position also participates in the development of the Nursing component of the plan of care at the direction of an...
  5. Ophthalmic Technician II Cambridge, MA Cambridge Health Alliance
    Ophthalmic Technician II Apply Refer a Friend Back Category: Allied Health Location: Somerville, MA Department: Ophthalmology Employment Type: Per Diem Job Type: Non-Union Work Shift: Days Work Days: 8:00am-4:30pm Date...
  6. Ophthalmic Tech - Full Time - Days New Orleans, LA Ochsner Health System
    Ophthalmic Technician - Full Time - Days Hours - M-F 8am- 5pm Travel to Baptist campus once a week This job provides individualized, direct patient care of assigned patients under the supervision of a licensed healthcare provider. Assists...