The healthcare industry is always growing no matter the financial situation of a country. This is because people are always in need of medical care and often, individuals do not think twice when it comes to their health. Interestingly, most people who want to join the healthcare industry often want to be nurses or medical assistants. Optometry is not a popular choice among people. Is this a good profession? Does it offer sustainable income? If you are thinking of being an optometrist, then you are at the right place.
The work of an optometrist is to help people with their vision. When people have problems with their vision, they often visit an optometrist. An optometrist specializes in correctly diagnosing problems with the visual system and offering solutions that help in improving their patient’s sights.
Optometry Job description
Optometrists use special instruments to diagnose their patient’s eye complications. For instance, they will use a retinoscope to check how a patient will react to various lens strengths and use ophthalmoscopes to check the inside of the eye.
After they have completed a diagnosis, optometrists will prescribe the needed glasses, medicines, contact lenses or any other necessary wear that will help in improving the sight of a patient.
In case a patient is scheduled to undergo eye surgery, it is your duty to take care of the patient and reassure them. After the surgery, you should follow up on the patient until they are fully recovered.
Sometimes an optometrist may find that their patient has serious eye problems such as glaucoma. In such an incident, the optometrist will refer you to a medical practitioner for further treatment.
Most optometrists often specialize in correcting a specific problem or helping a specific patient. For example, there those optometrists who work with just children. Others may work with only those patients who have a low sight while others may specialize in helping patients recover after undergoing eye surgery.
As an optometrist, you will need to work together with other different people in the medical field in taking care of patients who have chronic eye conditions. It is also your responsibility to write referral communications to other doctors when necessary. Sometimes you may be involved in the management of staff, which may include dispensing clerical staff and opticians and also training new members of staff. You may also be expected to manage the retail aspects of contact lenses, spectacles and all other vision care products. You will also administer, organize and plan for the development of you practice. You will also carefully examine your patient’s eyes to detect any signs of injury, vision problems or any kind of disease after getting a history of their case. You will also liaise with sales people from various vision care products and prescribe medicines for patients who have any form of eye conditions.
The AOA (American Optometric Association) closely monitors the salary of optometrists. The average Optometry salary for an optometrist ranges from $120,000 to $175,000. In bigger cities, the salary is also much bigger about $150,000.
For the entry level optometrists, the salary is much less. In the US, the starting salary can be as low as $70,000 to $90,000. The main factors that determine the start up pay is the education background, performance during internship and recommendations. Those who are at the mid-level of their careers earn about $100,000 annually.
Optometrists also get attractive bonuses apart from just their salaries according to their expertise and experience.
Factors that influence their salaries
The type of practice greatly influences how much an optometrist makes .Optometrists can choose the private practice option. For private practice, you should set up a clinic and handle business matters while at the same time taking proper care of your patients. You can also choose to seek employment in a large clinic or hospital. An in-house optometrist is usually employed by the institution and the income depends on the consultation rates or monthly fees. There are even those optometrists who work together with prominent producers. This means that the optometrist takes care of the medical part of the business while at the same time retailing for a company that makes eye glasses, contact lenses or any other products that help in improving eye sight.
Optometrists who are in private practice typically earn the highest. This is because their salaries are often raised by the extra services that they offer plus the earnings from eye care products which they sell to their clients. Therefore, they do not have a fixed monthly salary. When they have a lot of patients their profits go up and when the patients are few, the profits go down.
The location is also another factor that has an effect on the income of optometrists. In larger cities where the cost of living is high, then their earnings are also high.
If you would like to become an optometrist, then you must first complete a 4 year bachelors program that is relevant to the field such as biology or chemistry. A bachelors degree is important because it will enable you apply for optometry programs which are usually very competitive. After getting your degree, you will need to apply for an optometry program.
Before enrolling for an optometry program, ensure that it is accredited. If you enroll in one that is not accredited, you will not be able to get the needed license for practice. To complete your optometry program, you will take four years. The courses will include:
• Developmental optometry
• Advanced human physiology
• Ocular anatomy
• Community health optometry
• Primary optometry
• Medical lab procedures
• Introduction to vision science
• Ophthalmic optics lab
After getting your optometry degree, some graduates opt to join a residency program. During the residency program, students are able to work with optometrists who are highly experienced in the area of their choice.
As an optometrist, you will work in a standalone office but there are other optometrists who work in hospitals, doctor’s offices and retail stores. Depending on your work environment, your working hours may differ. Those who mainly work in an office have regular working hours. If you are into private practice, you may have to work longer hours carrying out general business practices such as marketing and paying bills.