The Jobs Report: I’m An Optometrist Intern And Student
10:15 am, December 26th | by Laura Donovan
This is the fifth installment in an ongoing series we’re calling The Jobs Report. In light of depressing statistics about unemployment, especially for recent college graduates, the task of finding a job you love — or finding a job at all — can seem insurmountable. We want to challenge those numbers and offer an antidote to the depressing data, so we’re asking women we know who have found jobs they love to share how they got their gigs and what challenges and rewards them about their careers. Previous installments can be found here.
Crystal Thanos is an optometrist intern living in Forest Grove, Oregon and is a third year student at Pacific University College of Optometry.
When and how did you decide you wanted to be an optometrist?
Throughout high school I had it in my head that I wanted to be some kind of doctor. Before going off to college at UC Davis, I had my annual eye exam and started wearing contact lenses for the first time. I had a good chat with my optometrist about her career choice, which sparked my interest. An internship program at my school gave me the connections to do a couple of internships at optometric practices in the Sacramento area, and then I was hooked. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree, and now here I am, 3 years into optometry school at Pacific University College of Optometry to become a doctor of optometry (OD).
How did you get the job you have now?
I still have 1.5 years left of optometry school, but the process to get here was not a walk in the park. Most optometry schools require a bachelor’s degree, and all have certain course prerequisites that must be completed at an undergraduate school. You must also take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), which is similar to the MCAT for medical school or DAT for dental school. You also need to complete full applications as well as the supplemental applications for each optometry school you apply to. (There are 21 schools in the US.) After interviewing and getting accepted, you are in for a rigorous 4-year program that prepares you academically and clinically to be an eye care professional. As a third year optometry student, in addition to a full course load, I spend two 4-hours days per week in clinic, where I diagnose, treat, and manage a variety of my own patients under the supervision of my attending doctors. The fourth year consists exclusively of four 3-month-long external and internal clinical rotations. Let’s not forget about the grueling 3-part national boards examination that must be completed during the third and fourth years in order to be boards-certified!
What’s something challenging about your job that you didn’t know about before starting it?
Before coming into optometry school, I had no idea how you could actually spend four years learning about eyes. I didn’t think there was that much involved. In reality, you need to take the entire patient into account when examining him or her. Aside from purely ocular problems, there are many genetic and systemic diseases (diabetes, for example) that can manifest in and affect the health of the eye, and it is your responsibility as an OD to be able to recognize, diagnose, and appropriately manage these conditions.
What’s something great about your job that you didn’t know about before starting it?
One of the great things about being an optometrist is the ability to be a doctor and still have a life outside of work. That is something that will be very important to me in the future. I want to get married, raise a family, and be an active part in their lives, and optometry is a career that will allow for that. Most ODs I know work around 40 hours a week, make a very comfortable amount of money, and don’t have to spend a ton of time after-hours on work.
Do you know a lady who has a cool job that she loves? Are you that lady? Nominate yourself or someone else to be featured in The Jobs Report at firstname.lastname@example.org.