During my interview with Dr. Chad Fleming OD, FAAO, he mentioned to me 3 attributes that any aspiring optometry student needs to develop in order to be a successful optometrist. The first attribute he mentioned was communication and how important it was to be able to express yourself to your professors, staff doctors, and patients. You can find my article on communication here.
In this article we’re going to tackle the second attribute Dr. Fleming mentioned: initiative. Most optometry students have at least some initiative – without it, getting into optometry school would be impossible. I’ll admit that some optometry students have more initiative than others, and you can see that every day at school. So the question I have is what makes some people have more initiative than others and how do they get it?
In my interview with Dr. Fleming (read the full interview here!), he mentioned to me that initiative is very important because when an OD is looking for a potential partner or associate, they look for the intangibles – and having initiative is one of them. In many cases, I have heard of an OD hiring a student that has been involved in their school and community over a student that has a great GPA. What that tells me is that it is far more important to be active in school than it is just to be there to get your degree and get out. Be sure to always keep your mind open to new opportunities to be involved at your school or community. There are plenty of ways to get involved and not all of them have to do with clubs of student government (e.g. OptometryStudents.com, State Associations, and Volunteer Organizations).
Initiative takes planning and action, and I believe that the way people acquire initiative is by setting goals for themselves and working hard to achieve those goals. How much initiative one person has depends solely on how much they want to be successful at what they do. When presented with difficult situations, always have the initiative necessary to identify and take advantage of new opportunities. All successful people and companies at one time in their careers have had to make the decision to stick to what they originally planned, or to take the new opportunity and see where it leads them (Hill, 2013). The important thing to focus on is where you want to be in the future and how you are going to get there.
The last part of this 3 part series will be about sincerity and how it can help you to be successful not only as a student, but as a practicing OD as well. What other attributes do you think are important in growing from an optometry student into a successful optometrist?
Hill, N. (2013). Think And Grow Rich. Tribeca Books.