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I don’t hate optometry

on March 19th, 2007 | Filed under Optoblog

I just got an e-mail invitation to join a Yahoo Group called, and I quote, “optometrysucks.” The body of the e-mail only says:

optometrysucks@yahoo.com has invited you to join the optometrysucks group!

Tell us about your experiences as an optometrist

First of all, I don’t hate optometry, and I definitely don’t think it sucks. Second, I wouldn’t even join a Yahoo Group called “Optometry Rules” or even “Optometry is okay” because I don’t like the closed door approach. That’s why I don’t participate in ODwire.com. I post my thoughts on my blog for everyone to see, not just select people.

Optometry as a profession can provide excellent eye healthcare delivery, and even in private practice, still provides excellent value in healthcare fees. We do much good. We perform all eye-related healthcare except surgery. We are making a difference in people’s lives every day. Today, I just saved a guy from getting LASIK because he’d never heard of Focus Night and Day lenses.

On the flip side, I think students considering optometry school should be more aware of what they can realistically expect for income in different modes of practice. I wish the general public understood our profession better. I wish more M.D.s respected what we do.

Sure, there are challenges in optometry, but it doesn’t suck.


10 Responses to “I don’t hate optometry”

  1. Dr. Pessimism says:

    Optometry Manifesto.

    Here is why I think Optometry does suck.

    1) 200K of debt for students now
    2) Less than desirable salaries working for an OD or even worse, go work for a MD
    3) Go corporate and work for Wally-world, get no respect day in day out and collect your 40 some odd bucks for an eye exam. Have fun working every Saturday for the rest of your life.
    4) More Optometry schools opening in CA and now I here Texas, let’s saturate the market more please.
    5) AOA takes thousands of dollars from you every year to tell you how great Optometry is. Rubbish!
    6) Impossible to open a practice with so much debt (refer to #1)

    Good luck to all new grads out there. Corporate optometry has ruined Optometry forever. Schools of Optometry are charging outrageous tuition in which you will never pay back.

  2. The above anonymous poster has some concerns shared by many people, but let’s take a step back. Let’s not assume that corporate and private are the only ways to practice. I love government optometry practice like Indian Health Service and the VA. You do a lot of good and you usually get the respect of your colleagues.

    Concerning respect in corporate- from what I’ve seen, it depends on the doctor. I’ve seen too many corporate docs who just do glasses Rx’s and don’t give a rat’s donkey about full scope eye care. They don’t deserve any respect. If you work corporate, all you have to do is treat disease when you see it, send a letter to the PCP, and then you’ll get your respect.

    Also, $45 for a basic eye exam ($55 for dilated) is awesome! Think about how many people without a vision insurance plan you are helping! Besides, that’s about how much you will collect from the vision insurance company anyway, so why not cut out the middle man? Now, is that how much you collect per patient? No way, they all want contacts, which is a additional 30-45 bucks, and you collect it that day instead of billing it and waiting one month just to be told to resubmit your claim or that the patient doesn’t have the benefit you had been told they have.

    Of course, you can only perform so many exams in a single day (assuming you can fill your appointment book), so if you desire to become a millionaire, invent a widget and sell an unlimited number of them instead of becoming a health care provider.

    Next, you complain about the high cost of optometry school, yet you don’t want any more optometry schools. Simple supply-demand economics tells me that more optometry schools would lead to lower tuition prices due to competition. I say bring it on. Besides, there aren’t enough oppie schools in the West. They’re all back East. We Westerners need our fair share.

    I agree 100% with your concern about the AOA. If joining the AOA means that I’m supporting optometry, how come I’m asked to make a separate donation to the AOA-PAC? I thought my AOA dues would go towards lobbying…

    Also, it’s not impossible to open a practice with optometry school debt. I did, but I also work in commercial to support my hobby- I mean private practice.

  3. Ryan McNett says:

    I don’t think I hate optometry, but with everything there are negatives and positives. I practice in a little more than difficult state to license of kansas. Also, its Kansas very few doctors want to live here, unless they’re from here. I think its harder to practice in Kansas City than Wichita, since its right on the Missouri borderline. The cheapest eye exam in town (wichita) is $70, so us corporate docs haven’t ruined just everything. I’m looking to quit Sears Optical, because they are part of the Luxottica group, which is horrible. The optical side staff is great, but they pretty much force you to take Cole Managed Vision which reimburses you $30. Cole patients ask why I am leaving, and I ask “Work hard all your two weeks, and then get your paycheck, and then half it.” They are getting upset because the next closest provider is in Salina, 75 minutes away. Oh well.

    I’ve had much better luck working Walmart here part time which I’m switching to here soon. At least walmart you’re not forced to take Cole Managed Vision, Davis, Avesis, VBA, or Eyemed. After a few more years then into private practice. I want to be my own boss, yes now I get to do that a lot since the Regional sales manager leave me alone, but I don’t want to have to worry about my job always.

    I agree AOA is crap, I haven’t seen any reason to give up any money to them. I’d rather just pay more for CE, since its all a tax write-off for me anyways.

  4. peter says:

    Optometry does suck and optometrysucks portrays the profession the way it really is. It’s a cop out to say all professions have problems, therefore optometry is a worthwhile career. Optometry is too expensive for what it gives back.

  5. Sucking is for babies and vacuums. You should find a less offensive word.

    How about Optometrists that Don’t Want Anyone Else to Become an Optometrist?

    And it’s a cop out for you to say it’s a cop out. Name one profession without any struggles. This is America. If a kid wants to be an optometrist, that’s their choice. It’s up to them to find out the cost/benefit before deciding on any profession.

  6. sgorny says:

    I think that the profession is what you make of it. You have to be willing to be flexible, work a combination of jobs, and relocate if necessary to find the right job. It did take me 7 years out of school to find the perfect job. Did I support myself before then? Yes. Did I work a melange of places to do it? Of course.

    Am I happy I stuck it out, and found a great, well paying job that really meets all my needs?

    Of course!

  7. teela says:

    optometry is hardly a profession worth going into debt for. unless you want to be burned out for chump change, i suggest going into another field. previous grads may have lucked out and locked down a job before the recession and over-saturation of upcoming grads, but the schools are defin producing more new graduates than people need. a good number of optometrists are only employed part time, and how many private practice ods can say they have full schedules every day? the field is disappointing and a waste of time. also, to a lot of patients, commerical ods aren’t even seen as doctors. good luck trying to gain respect.

  8. By the way, everybody, Teela found this post after searching “Hate Optometry” on Google.

  9. kamann says:

    I hate seeing patients…. it’s true, I’ve been practicing two years……. I feel each patient takes a little away from me, just an FYI to all the prospective ODs out there if I had to do it all again, I’d pick a career that didn’t involve any people interaction, I owe tons in student loans to a job I don’t like, I don’t want any of you optimistic OD students to end up like this, most of us ODs feel this way….. I just wish someone had told me 5 years ago 🙁

  10. pullingmyhairout says:

    I love the work. I love the Patients. I especially love unraveling mystery pathologies. There are many different areas to focus on…contacts, lens design/material, disease, technology, business, coding/billing, advertising, etc.
    What I don’t love is the pay!! There are far too many optometrists, with new schools opening all the time. I think this is because a bunch of underemployed optometrist got together and convinced a bunch of dim witted State Leaders that they needed more Optometry Schools, thus providing full time employment, prestige, benefits and summers off to this small group of underemployed Optometrists who wanted to spend their days roaming the halls wearing long white lab coats and being called “Professor.” I have known many students (mostly from Berkeley) who changed careers entirely after not being able to find a job. An RN with a GED and a three year Nursing degree makes more, and they also get medical, dental, vacation, retirement, sick leave, maternity leave and free in-house CE. They also have upward mobility as far as becoming a Nurse Anesthetist or Nurse Practitioner. Unless of course you went to Berkeley, in which case your local LVN makes more. I rue the day I dropped out of Nursing to switch to Biology. Ironically, I did it because I did not find the curriculum challenging enough.