There are many emotions that you feel as an optometry student nearing graduation. As you finish up your last few days in clinical externships, you begin to realize your long and arduous journey thus far was only the beginning. Coming together as a class for the last few times is bittersweet. Whether you will see them again or not, you’ve been through this journey together and the last four years of your lives have forged a bond deeper than any of you have yet realized.
As you attend your last seminars, graduation ceremony, and parties, know that you are not alone in your thoughts of anxiety and fear of the unknown. Those who’ve forged the path ahead of you can empathize with your feelings, and offer their words of wisdom.
In 2007, Dr. Sandra K. Fortenberry was in your shoes at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Ultimately settling on a residency in community based family practice in 2008, she set her sights on a medical practice where she could practice the full scope optometry. However, her career path went through many turns before she ultimately found her true calling. Now a tenured professor at the Rosenberg School of Optometry, she admits she was worried about finding a job right out of school. “I might have told myself to consider academia earlier. I’d also tell myself not to worry about having a job/contract in place early. There is plenty of work and jobs out there.” When asked if she had any further words of wisdom for the graduating class and current students, she responded “If your dream job doesn’t turn out to be a dream, it’s never too late to change… Find a place where you can contribute and you love to go to work!”
Dr. Christopher Lopez, a graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry class of 2018, says he found his calling in a multi-doctor, multi-location practice that encompasses a wide range of eyecare. “What I love about my job is every day is unique. I love seeing a wide variety of patients who constantly keep me on my toes and challenge me to be a better clinician.” He says there’s really no sugar-coating his advice. “Work your tail off, ask questions, study, make mistakes and learn from them. Be teachable. Be confident. All of these things will help mold you into a better scientist, professional, and doctor. Your patients will expect you to be the best optometrist possible. You should, too. Your patients deserve it.”
About the author
Peter Jacques is a fourth year optometry student at the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry. He has spent the last four years as the Editor-in-Chief of OptometryStudents.com, and would like to thank his amazing team of dedicated student writers and all those who have contributed over to the site through the years. He would also like to thank the AOA for their support of OptometryStudents.com, as well as his wife and family for their support of him.