NEWS FROM THE AOSA
How to Launch Your Career
Finding your first job after graduation
doesn't have to be daunting. Good planning and organization can smooth the path
BY KIM ZIEMNIK, Vice President, American Optometric Student Association, THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY CLASS OF
the scenario: You just graduated from optometry school and you're not sure what
you're going to do next. You do know you owe more than $100,000 in student loans
and you consolidated your way out of a 6-month grace period to lock in a super-low
interest rate and the first payment is due soon. Before you panic, check
out the following tips for starting your career.
WHERE SHOULD I GO?
You can narrow your choices
about where to practice by following a few important guidelines.
Work where you want
to live. Your passion (or lack thereof) for your community will be readily apparent
to your partner(s), your staff and your patients. Participating in local activities
sponsored by the Rotary Club, the Parent Teacher Association and other organizations
will alert prospective patients to your services.
Do a background check.
Learn as much as possible about potential practice communities before making a commitment.
Contact the local Chamber of Commerce for information about the economy, real estate
and population demographics. Other helpful sources include the Places Rated Almanac
and the Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide.
Take a tour. Visit a
community at least once before deciding to make it your home. A location that looks
great on paper may not accommodate your personal and professional needs.
Crunch the numbers. Calculate
the current optometrist-to-population ratio to make sure the community can support
your practice. According to "Business Aspects of Optometry,"1 rural areas
should have one optometrist for every 4,000 to 6,000 residents. An urban optometrist
needs 25,000 to 45,000 residents to keep a practice going. To find out how many
active optometrists practice in an area, check the local Yellow Pages.
TEST THE FIT
Even if you think you've
found your dream location, ask yourself if this is where you can achieve your personal
and professional goals. Will prescriptive laws or procedure limitations prevent
you from practicing your preferred type of optometry? You worked hard to earn your
Doctor of Optometry degree; you should be free to use your training to your full
potential. To learn about prescriptive authorities in your state of choice, click
on the "post graduation" link at theaosa.org. The table shows the differences in
scope of practice by state.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING
As a newly minted optometrist,
your opportunities are endless. Use your skills to help patients and show your practice
community the value of our profession. Most importantly, enjoy yourself while doing
so. Best of luck in your endeavors.
1. Hisaka C., Classé G, Tai L, et al., eds.:
Business Aspects of Optometry. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2004.
Optometric Management, Issue: September 2005