I recently read an article in Women in Optometry that had polled a group of optometrists about their satisfaction with their career choice. The results were shocking to me. I couldn’t believe that almost 50% of optometrists who were asked “If you were to start your career in optometry today, what path would you take?” stated that they would “not choose optometry.”
When these ODs were asked to further explain their answers, it seemed as though the general consensus was that most of them had high hopes and optimism when they started their career, but over the years, they had become discouraged due to decreasing reimbursement rates from medical and vision plans with increasing costs of doing business, unfair competition with large optical chains and internet sites, and regulatory changes that have taken away the joy of treating patients.
It also seemed that many of these doctors aren’t making the amount of money that they had expected upon graduation, and that along with the overwhelming cost of optometry school, has them wondering if it was really worth it in the end.
I hope that the results of this poll do not discourage those of you who are still in school, or just starting your career in optometry. There are still a large portion of currently practicing ODs who are very happy and satisfied with their choice and the life that this field has provided for them.
I am one of those people. Just like anything else, I firmly believe that you are in control of your happiness and that you get out what you put in. If you are unhappy with the mode of practice that you are in, or the office that you are working for, then take the time to re-evaluate your current position and consider a change.
Source: Review of Optometry
I’ve made several changes in my short career so far to make sure that I am happy with my day-to-day schedule. It takes time to find your niche; you’ll get there, so don’t give up. I also find great joy in the relationships with my patients. Take the time to get to know your patients, learn about them, and tell them about yourself. You’ll meet some amazing people every single day that will bring you happiness.
And yes, student loans are pretty much the worst thing ever, but if you are struggling with your payments and those monthly checks to pay your debt make you crazy, meet with a financial advisor to go over some options to help you manage. I would imagine that if you would ask other professionals, MDs, veterinarians, dentists, etc. the same question about their satisfaction with their career choice, the results would be similar… its not just optometry.
On the flip side, I also found it very interesting that even with a large percentage of ODs stating that they’d likely choose another career path if they could start all over, almost 60% of those polled said that they are happier now than when they started. So again, there is some hope! It just may take some time to get there! Maybe those who reported that they would choose another career path just haven’t quite found their comfort zone yet!
Here is a link to the full results of the poll from Women in Optometry.