Is becoming an optometrist right for me?
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How to become an Optometrist
To become an optometrist, you typically need to follow these steps:
- Obtain a bachelor's degree: Optometry schools require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree program with a minimum GPA of 2.5. There is no specific major required, but students should complete the pre-requisite courses for optometry school, which typically include biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and statistics.
- Take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT): The OAT is a standardized test that measures an applicant's academic ability and scientific comprehension. It includes four sections: natural sciences, reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning.
- Attend optometry school: Optometry school is a four-year program that leads to a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. It includes both classroom and clinical training, and covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, optics, and clinical skills.
- Pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exams: The NBEO exams are a series of three tests that assess a candidate's knowledge and clinical skills in optometry.
- Obtain a state license: To practice optometry, you must obtain a license from the state where you intend to work. The requirements for licensure vary by state, but typically include passing the NBEO exams, completing a certain number of clinical hours, and passing a state-specific jurisprudence exam.
- Consider pursuing a residency: Optometric residencies are one-year programs that provide additional training in a specific area of optometry, such as pediatrics, ocular disease, or contact lenses. Residencies are not required, but can provide additional experience and training that can enhance career opportunities.
There are various certifications that optometrists can pursue to demonstrate specialized knowledge or skills in specific areas of optometry. Here are some examples:
- Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO): This certification is awarded by the American Academy of Optometry to optometrists who demonstrate exceptional knowledge and skills in a specific area of optometry.
- Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry (DABO): This certification is awarded by the American Board of Optometry to optometrists who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and clinical skills in optometry.
- Certified Contact Lens Fitter (CCLF): This certification is awarded by the National Contact Lens Examiners to optometrists who demonstrate expertise in fitting and prescribing contact lenses.
- Residency Certification: Optometric residencies are one-year programs that provide additional training in a specific area of optometry, such as pediatrics, ocular disease, or contact lenses. Optometrists who complete a residency program can obtain a certification in that specific area of optometry.
There are several professional associations for optometrists in the United States and around the world. These associations provide optometrists with resources, support, and networking opportunities to advance the profession and improve patient care. Here are some examples:
- American Optometric Association (AOA): The AOA is the largest professional organization for optometrists in the United States. It provides resources and support to optometrists, advocates for the profession, and promotes eye and vision health.
- Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO): The ASCO is a non-profit organization representing the interests of optometric education. It provides resources and support to optometry schools and colleges, promotes research and innovation in optometric education, and advocates for the advancement of the profession.
- World Council of Optometry (WCO): The WCO is a global organization representing optometry on an international level. It provides resources and support to optometrists and optometry organizations around the world, promotes the advancement of the profession, and advocates for eye and vision health on a global scale.
- Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF): The OEPF is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the advancement of optometry through continuing education, research, and clinical practice. It provides resources and support to optometrists who specialize in vision therapy and rehabilitation.
- College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD): The COVD is a non-profit organization representing optometrists who specialize in vision therapy and rehabilitation. It provides resources and support to optometrists, promotes research and innovation in vision therapy, and advocates for the advancement of the profession.