What am I going to do now? Where am I going to find a job? How do I go about opening up my own practice? These are just a few of the many business-related questions optometry students face when nearing graduation. A further question might be why these questions have to be asked in the first place. Although there has been a drastic effort and improvement to educate our new graduates on the basics in business management of optometry, is it really enough? At what point must we make an effort to educate ourselves?
While it is helpful for optometry schools to lend students a hand at getting started in business, students also need to take the initiative and seek out information. Unlike past generations, we are fortunate to have tremendous resources lying at our fingertips with the internet. Thanks to our smartphones and electronic tablets, we can pursue that information during any spare moment. Waiting for class to begin? The perfect time to catch up on your reading of professional publications such as this one or check in with optometric groups on Facebook. The key is reaching out and obtaining information rather than waiting passively for the needed knowledge to miraculously drop in our laps.
As we all know, optometry school can be quite rigorous and demanding. Although many of us are concerned with simply getting through the curriculum, we must not neglect the business aspect of optometry. It is this lack of planning and knowledge along with the immediate burden of debt that forces our new graduates into modes of practice they never envisioned (or wanted). The optometry students who always dreamed of private practice, but find themselves a few years after graduation stuck working for someone else, can sometimes blame themselves for not being more proactive and educating themselves on what it takes to get started in business. Don’t let your optometric future choose you rather the other way around. With the right business, as well as clinical education, you have a greater chance of choosing the optometric career you always envisioned.
We understand the importance of learning the practice management and business side of optometry. As we are all in this together, we write this post with the intention of enlightening our peers with feedback and advice from experienced OD’s. We hope our efforts will generate a greater interest in our colleagues toward the business aspect of their future careers. We also encourage student feedback and responses. If you have any specific questions you would like answered, please e-mail us or post it here, as it may be a potential topic for discussion, and probably a question other students would like to know the answer to as well.
What advice do you seasoned ODs wish you were given before you graduated? What do you students feel you need to learn more about?