Are you interested in becoming an optometrist? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this blog, I’ll walk you through the steps on how to become an optometrist.
- Optometry is a specialized field that requires a strong background in science, including biology, chemistry, and physics.
- The path to becoming an optometrist involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree, taking the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), completing optometry school, passing the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exam, and obtaining a state license.
- Becoming an optometrist requires dedication, hard work, and financial investment, but it is a rewarding career that allows you to help people improve their vision and overall eye health.
First off, let’s define what an optometrist is. An optometrist is a healthcare professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating vision problems. They perform eye exams, prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, and diagnose and treat eye diseases. Now that we have a basic understanding of what an optometrist does, let’s dive into the steps on how to become one.
Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step to becoming an optometrist is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. There is no specific major required to become an optometrist, but it is recommended that you major in a science-related field such as biology, chemistry, or physics. This is because optometry is a heavily science-based field, and having a strong background in these subjects will prepare you for the coursework that you will encounter in optometry school. However, it is important to note that not all optometry schools require a bachelor’s degree, but having one will increase your chances of getting accepted into an optometry program.
Step 2: Take the OAT
The next step is to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). The OAT is a standardized test that measures your academic ability and scientific comprehension. It tests your knowledge in four areas: biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. You can take the OAT multiple times, but it is important to note that some optometry schools only consider your highest score. You can register to take the OAT through the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) website.
Step 3: Apply to Optometry School
Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree and taken the OAT, the next step is to apply to optometry school. There are currently 25 optometry schools in the United States, and each has its own set of admission requirements. Some schools require a bachelor’s degree, while others do not. Some schools require a certain minimum GPA and OAT score, while others place more emphasis on extracurricular activities and volunteer work. It is important to research each optometry school thoroughly to determine which schools best fit your qualifications and interests.
Step 4: Complete Optometry School
After being accepted into an optometry program, you will spend four years completing the program. The first two years of optometry school are typically focused on classroom instruction and laboratory work, while the last two years are focused on clinical experience. During your clinical experience, you will work with patients under the supervision of licensed optometrists to gain hands-on experience.
Step 5: Pass the NBEO
After completing optometry school, the final step to becoming an optometrist is to pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) exam. This exam is a comprehensive test that assesses your knowledge in all areas of optometry, including diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases, prescribing glasses and contact lenses, and clinical skills. You must pass the NBEO exam to obtain a license to practice optometry in the United States.
Step 6: Obtain a State License
After passing the NBEO exam, the final step to becoming an optometrist is to obtain a state license. Each state has its own licensing requirements, but most require that you pass the NBEO exam and complete a certain number of clinical hours. It is important to research your state’s licensing requirements to ensure that you meet all of the qualifications.
In conclusion, becoming an optometrist requires dedication and hard work, but it is a rewarding career that allows you to help people see better and improve their overall eye health. By following these six steps, you can become a licensed optometrist and start making a difference in the lives of your patients.
It’s important to note that becoming an optometrist is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Optometry is a highly specialized field that requires a lot of time, effort, and financial investment. It is important to research the profession thoroughly before committing to it, and to ensure that it is the right career path for you.
In addition to the six steps outlined above, there are a few other things you can do to increase your chances of success as an optometrist. These include networking with other optometrists and healthcare professionals, staying up-to-date with the latest research and technology in the field, and participating in continuing education programs to maintain your licensure and stay informed about new developments in optometry.
Overall, becoming an optometrist is a challenging but rewarding career choice. By following the steps outlined in this article and staying committed to your education and professional development, you can achieve your goal of becoming a licensed optometrist and help people see the world in a whole new way. Good luck!