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Optometry Perks?

on August 16th, 2008 | Filed under Optoblog

Any readers of this blog entry entitled “The Perks of an Optometry Career” need to read my “Do Not Become an Optometrist” entry or my “Should YOU Open a Private Practice?” entry.

How does the perk of working every Saturday sound? How do you like getting home many nights at 8:00 PM, (just in time to tuck your kids into bed)?

Unless an optometrist is employed by a big chain or there is some extreme emergency, hours are generally restricted to Monday through Friday with no on-call duty needed.

That’s not true in today’s market. Only government workers get Saturdays off now. More and more private practices offer extended hours and Saturday hours to stay competitive in today’s market. People don’t take time off work anymore just for routine eyecare (but of course they’ll do it for the dentist, but not you…a lowly optometrist).

Oh, and other doctors don’t have to worry about their scope of practice being legislated away.

And how do you like having a cap on potential income? You can only see so many patients a day. Get rich selling an unlimited number of widgets that everyone wants. Only become an optometrist because you love it…but, that begs the question how do you find out that you love optometry without going to expensive optometry school? By the way, when I went to optometry school (PUCO 2003), it cost about $22,000 per year for tuition, including fourth year when you’re not even at school because you are on preceptorship. Last I heard it’s up to $27,000 per year.

So my question is, at what price point does optometry school become unfeasible?

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7 Responses to “Optometry Perks?”

  1. Natalie says:

    That’s pretty funny! I have never thought through the life of an optometrist in those ways.

    I am so glad I found this blog. It seems like you have a lot of passion the profession and you will be able to offer your opinion.

    My husband and I are leaving on September 30th, to begin backpacking all around the world to various countries for a year or so. We have decided to go with Focus Dailies.

    Leave us a comment with your thoughts, http://www.nomadbackpackers.com

    Was this the right decision? Are their better “daily wear lenses” out there? Do you think we will regret not going with the 1-2 week lenses? What advice would you offer us to keep our eyes safe and healthy as we backpack? Etc. Really any thoughts or comments that you or other optometrists have for us would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again!

  2. A little off topic, but my only concern would be that a one year supply of Focus Dailies is a lot of bulk (720 contact lenses packaged in 8 bigger boxes), and I know backpackers usually like to go lean since space is at a premium.
    On the other hand, being in a foreign country and uncertain of healthcare availability, you want your eyes to be as healthy as possible to avoid eye infections/allergy eyes, etc, and single use lenses are arguably the healthiest.

    You could have gone with a two week lens that you actually replace every two weeks. Maybe I’d make it a high oxygen lens that you can sleep in sometimes like Acuvue Oasys. But then you would have to buy solution…so that would take up bulk in your pack.

    Maybe you could have gone with the Focus Night and Day and just sleep in the darn things and not take them out for one month. That way you could avoid the bulk of contact lens solution and just have a small sample bottle when needed once or twice a month. But then if you are going to be swimming in lakes or streams, that could be a risk for infection while wearing the contacts.
    It’s all a compromise. No one right answer either.

  3. Thanks for blog, good insight into the issues facing optometrists today. On that note, the time-revenue model most optometrists practice under does lead to the natural conclusion that you have to work longer and longer to increase revenues. However, there are some fundamental changes you can make that will increase your revenue per patient and more importantly generate continual positive word of mouth. Clearly, there is a perception issue that optometrists face but other professions face some of those same challenges. To thrive an optometrist should take a look at how THEY view their business. Do they view it as a an ongoing communication that is designed to nurture a relationship or is it a point of service/transactional type concern. You wouldn’t know it by watching the news but the fastest growing group in America is the mass affluent group. This group has different expectations than the “norm” but rewards meeting those expectations handsomely. Those are just two things to consider when thinking about optometry as a business. HOW you view yourself and your business will determine HOW it rewards your efforts. Thanks for blog, keep it up, I always look forward to your posts.

  4. That’s such I nice thought. Wow, to think I’ve been wasting all my time giving eye exams to poor people.

    Look, we can’t all set up niche practices selling $800 glasses to Governor Palin.

  5. Kat says:

    hi david, i just stumbled across your blog today and am happy to find someone to commiserate with. ๐Ÿ™‚ i graduated from puco in 2005…and am still paying down my enormous student loans…and incidentally, also worked for ihs (residency program in arizona)…and moonlighted at sam’s club and costco…i can definitely relate to everything you’re saying. a year after my residency, i got incredibly lucky…i walked into a group practice adjacent to (and owned by) an optical chain (eyemart express) that allows its leasing ods to sell contacts. we have six ods and a patient base of over 100,000, so we stay busy. although the profit margin on contacts is not nearly as much as glasses, it’s still pretty amazing how much more you can make on a daily basis (and there’s no cap on the income). wal-mart and 1-800-contacts can sometimes beat our prices (by a few bucks) because of the sheer volume they sell, but some patients prefer the convenience of buying contacts straight from us after their exam (we stock almost all the brands…our inventory is enormous). sharing a lease with several other ods is great (we have 8 exam lanes) because we can split the expenses and have really flexible schedules. the chain takes a percentage of our income, but does all the maintenance (we just got remodeled last month). anyways, just wanted to suggest maybe looking into a lease-sharing situation if wal-mart will allow that or leasing with a chain that allows contact lens sales. or, if you’re really brave, opening up shop with a few buddies so you can sell everything yourself! ๐Ÿ™‚ in conclusion…thanks for creating this site, i look forward to visiting it often. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Whine, whine, whine! This is America! If you spent less time whining and more time figuring out how to be competitive, you wouldn’t whine quite so much. Optometry is an awesome career. But just like anything else, you have to work it! BTW, as far as the costs go….a medical education costs, as does a dental or podiatry education….sometimes more than optometry. You can be successful and happy….I am.

  7. Wish I Hadn't Gotten an OD says:

    @ Dominick Maino Easy for you to say – you didn’t graduate in the last 5 years. The debt load these days is daunting and unless you have the income to support it, the results are high stress, high hours, and poor job outlook. Dentists and Physicians do spend as much, if not more than ODs on their education, but they come out making considerably more and they do not face a virtually non-existent private practice job market. Even THEY are complaining about income not being able to sustain them with student loan debt so that should tell you something. The starting salaries of ODs haven’t changed in the last 10 years. Grads came out in 2000 expecting about $325 per day and you know what? They’re getting the same thing or less today. Annual salaries for new grads are in the 70-80K range, and that’s if they’re one of the lucky few that get FT work. Most end up working PT at several commercial locations to make ends meet. Good luck buying a practice. Even if a new grad wanted to, getting approval for a $300 – $600K practice loan with a 200K or more student debt load is not likely.

    The income is just not there for new grads and it’s only going to get worse with the new schools pumping out more and more ODs every year. You can’t repay your loans easily on 75K, especially if you have any hope of living as anything but a college student. Good luck getting a home, buying a car, having money to do just about anything other than eating ramen noodles and tang. It sounds nice for you older ODs with successful practices that were built in the 70s, 80s, and 90s to say “Just work hard and stop complaining,” but the reality is, optometry is not the way it was when you entered the field. Don’t make generalizations that aren’t valid. New grads today are going to face a career in commercial optometry while the private practice side of the profession slowly dies away due to lack of ability to perpetuate it. Good luck selling your practice one day, there won’t be anyone around with the ability to buy it.