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Optometrists (O.D.s) and Optometry Schools

Optometrists (O.D.s), the major providers of primary vision care in the United States, examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system. Treatments include glasses, contacts, and in some states therapeutic drugs for sight. They work in close conjunction with ophthalmologists (M.D.s) and opticians on the visual health care team. In addition to seeing patients, optometrists determine safe vision standards in the industry and determine who may safely drive an automobile. The optometrist usually practices independently; however, now many join Health Maintenance Organizations.

Personal Characteristics and Future Outlook. Before entering any health care profession, examine your own personal attributes and inclinations. Clearly outgoing qualities and an aptitude for science (especially physics) define optometrists. They need to manipulate fine instrumentation and measuring devices. Of course, this requires good manual dexterity. Furthermore, optometrists have some knowledge of the business world since many still operate their own practice.

According to the American Optometric Association, as the demand for better eye care increases and new technologies become available, demand for optometrists will stay high in the future. Generally, optometrists earn an excellent income and work flexible hours, allowing them to have a very fulfilling personal life.

How to Get into Optometry Schools

Preparation. With 17 accredited optometry schools in the United States, many have dif ferent entry requirements. So, contact each school very early to review their requirements. Although most optometry students have undergraduate degrees, optometry schools do not require them. Two of the 17 schools require two years of undergraduate course work, while the other fifteen require three years. All schools insist on one year of physics, general chemistry, English, and math. In addition most schools also look for either a semester or a year of biology, psychology, microbiology, and organic chemist ry. Many optometry schools also stress the importance of the humanities in addition to the core sciences.

Optometry schools have a four-year curriculum that includes basic training and clinical experience. A major in one of the natural sciences should adequately prepare an optometry school applicant. Like the other health professions, maintain a solid GPA and perform well on the OAT (Optometry Admissions Test).

Admissions. As an applicant to optometry school, a committee of O.D.s a nd Ph.D.s from the institution will evaluate your application. They look for applicants who demonstrate strong intellectual ability, a good record of personal accomplishments, and personal characteristics that enable a person to relate to and treat patients well. Your OAT score, required for all schools, objectively illustrates your quality as an applicant. Admissions committees also evaluate your GPA. The first two years of optometry school consist of traditional lecture based learning so admissions commit tees use past academic performance as the best indicator whether students will do well. Consequently, committees take into account such factors as overall course load, science GPA, and the students time management abilities.

In addition to a good score on the OAT and a good GPA optometry schools also read letters of recommendation. Most schools prefer a committee letter from your undergraduate institution. At the University of Scranton, you will enter the Heath Professions Evaluation Committee p rocess. The actual application process begins in the summer or early fall one year before you start classes. Optometry schools invite the most promising applicants for interviews. During the interview, stay relaxed while talking about yourself and show an enthusiastic interest in the school.

Conclusion. Although the applicant faces a difficult application process and the subsequent demanding training in optometry school, optometry promises a fulfilling health professional career now and in the future.


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