The first thing to think about is college. College is the best time to specialize in optometry, so choose carefully! If you plan on specializing in contact lenses or low vision, you may want to consider a smaller school. There are only a few programs available, and they are often better than the larger schools. Contact lens students will benefit from obtaining hands-on experience by spending time with practicing optometrists during their time at college. These experiences are invaluable for getting familiar with the profession and figuring out if it’s something that interests you! Low vision students will do well to take courses on low vision rehabilitation during their undergraduate years as well as clinical hours working with low vision patients. If possible, try to get some experience working directly with blind people during your college career—they love talking about their experiences and sharing what they’ve learned through life experiences! Make sure you do well in school! The more prepared you are when starting your residency program after graduation, the better off you’ll be when it comes time for exams or practicals/internships after graduation! Be aware of what your most difficult classes will be once entering into them—if there are professors who have difficulty grading exams fairly or giving good feedback on written assignments (written reports), then try not to sign up for too many classes taught under those professors. The cool-looking glasses may be tempting, but taking classes taught by professors you don’t like is never a good way to spend your time.
Once you graduate from college, it’s time for residency! Residency is the most important part of becoming an optometrist. Most schools will have clinical programs that are affiliated with hospitals or clinics in the area where they are located, so look at those closely when choosing which school to attend! If possible, avoid schools whose clinical sites are too far away from each other—this can make your days very long if you have to travel across town every morning and evening! Most schools will offer some sort of financial assistance during residency—be sure to take advantage of this assistance if it’s there! Try not to get yourself into debt unnecessarily just because you don’t want financial assistance. Work hard during residency and keep your grades up as much as possible. You’ll need all As for internship placement later on down the line after graduation! During these years, stay close with classmates who share your interests. You’ll make lifelong friends this way, and it will be fun to have someone to go out with on the weekends! Make sure you remember why you wanted to do this in the first place. It’s not always easy being an optometrist, but try your best!
Ahh, internship. The most difficult part of becoming an optometrist is here! You’ve done well so far—now it’s time for the final push towards graduation. Try your hardest throughout these few months because people are depending on you! It can be tough being away from home for several months at a time, so make sure you leave plenty of room in your schedule for things like exercise or even just relaxing after long days at work (because let’s face it: sometimes they can be very long and stressful). If possible, try living close by or with some family members rather than renting a house by yourself—it’ll save money and help shorten those days even more since they’re not spent traveling back and forth across town all day long. If possible (and affordable), take some vacation time between finishing internship and starting residency as an extern—you deserve some R&R after such a hard few months! These years will fly by more quickly than you know it, so don’t let them slip away without enjoying them as much as possible.
I hope you enjoyed reading all of this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments below!