In U.S. News & World Report’s most recent Best Jobs lists, the role of an optometrist ranked #9 in Best Health Care Jobs
, #11 in the 100 Best Jobs
, and #22 in Best Paying Jobs
. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), with the advent of new technologies, the optometric profession is expanding not only in the scope of practice but also in efficiency of care. Optometrists or Doctors of Optometry are independent primary eye healthcare professionals. They are responsible for more than just prescribing corrective lenses—they also play an important role in diagnosing, managing, and treating abrasions, ulcers, infections, and other systemic diseases that can affect the eyes and visual system. Furthermore, optometrists in many states have privileges to perform certain surgical procedures.
According to the AOA, the profession is often described as incredibly rewarding for the following reasons:
- High demand: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ranks the optometrist profession as the 20th fastest-growing occupation among all occupations, with a 27% growth rate expected from 2014-2024, which is much faster than 7%—the average growth rate for all occupations.
- Flexible work schedule: Working an average of slightly more than 37 hours per week, the average optometrist enjoys a decent work-life balance.
- Salary: Data from the AOA and BLS shows the average net income for optometrists is between $103,000 and $129,000.
- Personal gratification: As an optometrist, you enhance the quality of life of your patients.
Unlike other professions, optometrists can work in a multitude of environments including privately owned practices, group practices, hospitals, and retail/optical centers. There are also opportunities to practice in a military setting, academia, corporate, or hospital- or clinic-based setting, or to be a consultant. Optometrists can work in conjunction with an ophthalmologist.
At Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO)
, students are prepared to become providers representing an entry point into the healthcare system. Early clinical experience as well as a 16-month externship program provides hands-on learning crucial for becoming an excellent clinician. Students are not only exposed to the clinical setting early on in their studies at The Eye Institute – the University’s main clinical eye care facility – but also have the opportunity to work in a variety of different environments to determine what works best for them.
As one of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations, optometry as a profession is taking on more of a holistic approach to ocular health to meet the demands of the population. Primary care optometry includes all components of visual care, ocular health, and care associated with related systemic disorders. In conjunction with the changing field, every aspect of education at Salus PCO—from EHR and clinical training, to the didactic courses such as evidence-based practice, anatomy, and genetics—prepares students for this shift. Students are ultimately aptly prepared when they graduate and have extensive opportunities to expand their career.
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