Whether you are finishing your last semester of optometry school or looking for a change in employment, there are things that you absolutely cannot overlook during your search:
1. Know your state requirements!
It should come as no surprise that the requirements for practicing optometry vary greatly from state to state. Knowing what is expected for licensure in a particular state is as easy as looking into the state’s Optometric Association. A quick internet search should easily pop up results. It is also a good idea to check on the type of requirements (online vs. in-person vs. testing center). For example, some states require an in-person visit, whereas others may only require an online law exam, which makes it easier to get licensed in a state that you may not be living in yet, or save you the trouble of having to take time off to get it done.
2. What type of employee will you be?
We all know the answer to this is “a good one!” But I’m talking from the perspective of filing your taxes. It is important to know this answer and know the “why” behind it. Will you be an Independent Contractor? An Associate Doctor? Salaried with full benefits? For example, there are pros and cons to getting paid a salary. This will also vary from state to state, so be sure to look into how your taxes will be filed before accepting a job offer. These are all things to consider when thinking about filing taxes.
3. What kind of support staff will be available to you?
Some offices may have plenty of personnel hired, but being able to utilize them is another story. If the employer seems to do a lot of his or her own exam work-up, then this may not be as important a matter after all. But if exams are expected to be performed every 20 minutes and there are three optometrists and three technicians, then you can expect to lose that game of musical chairs every time –this is mainly because the addition of a doctor, without the addition of a technician, will slow down the patient flow and efficiency within the office.
Similarly, it is important to make a point to meet everyone in the office during an interview. This will help paint a picture workplace culture and whether or not you can see yourself working there.
4. Insurance coverage, but not for the patient.
Regardless of the type of practice setting, there are things that every optometrist must have, which includes malpractice insurance. Some employers will cover this, others expect you to have your own. While you’re on the topic of insurance, ask about health insurance (and matching 401K contributions, too). If covered by your employer, these factors can make an average salary seem a lot more appealing.
5. Scheduling preferred, but walk-ins welcome.
Knowing the expectations for how an employer wants you to handle a patient that asks to be seen the same day. Does the office have a set schedule? Are there a lot of no-shows or walk-ins at this clinic? If you are expected to see a certain number of patients during a given month or week? These things matter. Some employers will offer incentives to the doctors to encourage accepting walk-ins and reduce the number of patients that leave because the next appointment is booked three weeks out. These are things to think about before an interview.
If the job search is intimidating or seems a bit overwhelming at times, remember to tell yourself:
Roses are red, violets are blue,
Your classmate got a sweet job, and you can, too!