Benefits of being an optometrist
Excellent work-life balance. With some exceptions, optometrists enjoy a 40-hour work week with no on-call assignments or late-night shifts. Most optometrists I shadowed are active in their communities and enjoy personal hobbies with their families and friends.
- Clean, well-structured, and comfortable work environment. Fortunately for optometrists, they can practice healthcare without much exposure to bodily fluids or highly contagious microbes.
- Possibility of being your own boss. As an optometrist, you have the option of possibly starting your own private practice. As the owner or co-owner, you can control your hours, office functions, scheduling, etc.
- More time interacting with patients. Routine eye exams can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes per patient. Because of this, optometrists tend to develop long-term relationships with their patients.
- Relatively low stress job. A quick Google search will reveal that optometry consistently ranks among low-stress professions. Limited emergencies, repetitive nature of the job, and a safe work environment keep the stress level down at many optometry offices.
- Combination of routine and pathological cases. While the bread-and-butter of optometry is routine refraction exams, there are also enough pathologies that get thrown in the mix to keep it interesting. Ocular manifestations of diabetes, eye infections, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, glaucoma, among others are some of the most common medical cases that optometrists see.
- Opportunity to serve the less privileged through vision screenings. Whether through a mission trip abroad or a local vision screening, optometrists can provide much-needed eye care services to the less fortunate.
- Serve as the gateway to the healthcare system. Many people do not visit their medical doctors unless they feel something wrong. As a result, optometrists are often the first to diagnose patients with underlying systemic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol. In response, optometrists refer the patient to a primary care physician, serving as a first line of defense in today’s health care team. (Recently, there has been some research suggesting that Alzheimer’s disease may soon be diagnosed by a retinal exam.)
- Experience tangible results immediately. Optometrists enjoy the benefit of seeing the fruit of their labor almost immediately. They see excitement and smile on a patient’s face whenever they share the gift of vision.
- Far-reaching positive impact on a patient’s life. While an improved vision may be the immediate result of an optometrist’s job, its impact goes far beyond the four corners of the exam room. A child formerly misdiagnosed with ADHD may go home and begin performing better in school. A professional athlete may begin seeing improvements in his/her game. A seemingly harmless eye glass visit may turn into a life-saving medical exam for a mother with an optic nerve tumor. The positive impact of optometry is far-reaching.
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