First Year In Practice- How to Stand Out From Other Graduating ODs

First Year In Practice FRIDAY’S – Part 4 of 5
By: Dr. Paul Heeg

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I can imagine most of you reading this right now thinking to yourself: “Why should I care about this just yet?  I am just trying to survive optometry school! “   Well, I think you have good point but you are missing out on potential opportunities by not thinking about the future.  There is a lot to think about in your post optometry school world.  I am only going to scratch the surface with ideas to get you plugged in and enthusiastic about your post optometry schooling life.

First, shadow offices you may want to work in someday. What, shadow?  You may say “I thought I am done with that? “ Nope, shadowing is one of the best things that you can do!  Especially if you think that a practice may need an additional OD down the line.  The best way to figure that out is to shadow an office and see firsthand how the climate is.   Even as a doctor, I love seeing how other offices coordinate together to create a successful office environment.  I would encourage you to see a multitude of different offices and pick up little things.

Second, make a list of “goals” or “must haves”. On this must haves list, put things that you want to have in your office or an office you will work in after you graduate.  On my list, I put a few major goals; one was an independent atmosphere, second was where I could set my own hours and third was in an area where my services were demanded.   Be careful not to make your list unrealistic, but keep what is very important to you.  Even right now, I am modifying my list.

Volunteer! Okay, I am trying not to make this too repetitive to any of my previous articles, but this is a huge part to your optometry student experience and it will set you up for success as an optometrist.  How is that?  Well, it places you in a healthy mindset of what you really are doing.  You may volunteer at many levels; let that be through one of many charitable organizations or through organized optometry through the AOA.   Plus, you are helping out others, which is really the whole point.  Any office that may be interested in you will look at this as something that will put your application apart from others.  GPA only will go so far.  The really important thing is how you are as a doctor, not how you did in bio-chemistry in first year optometry school.  The bigger question is will you be able to connect to the patients?  Will you show compassion and interest in every new person that  walks in your door?  Volunteering will show some of those much needed qualities.

Talk to as many established ODs out there. Please, do not feel intimidated about talking to other ODs.  Why is that?  Well, they are the ones that have done so much before you… by picking their brains, you are able to really get a grasp of what you will want to do post optometry school.  Also, understand, many ODs will have variable opinions about the profession and what was best for me.  I have met many ODs that love solo practice.  I have also met just as many that love group practice.  Each have their merit and strong points.  I am glad that I have had the chance to listen to both sides to that element to optometry.  There are so much more potential topics though!

The great thing about life is that there is no set path.  You have the bulls by the horn!  It is your time to steer it in the right direction, my objection in this article is to both motivate and encourage you about your world that is soon to open up.   All the best in your goal setting and adventures in achieving them!

Next week’s topic:   Social Media and my electronic self: How will it affect my optometric career?

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