On March 26th, we were lucky enough to have Dr. Earley come to speak with our club. We learned a lot about the changes in the profession as well as received some great advice. Thank you, Dr. Earley for taking them time to come and talk with us about Optometry and all that comes along with it!
Dr. Earley explained to us how it is a time of change in optometry. He told us how there is more vertical integration meaning Optometrists can no longer depend on the sale of optical items, they must depend on eye health checks, refractions, etc. However, health is getting worse, people are getting older, and diseases associated with this are going up (27% increase in ocular health issues in the next 5-10 years). In comparison, Ophthalmology is only predicted to go up 1-2% and Optometry needs to fill the gap. Another great part of being an Optometrist is it is a good profession for lifestyle.
About Ohio State specifically, Dr. Earley explained that Ohio State will never take away things like low vision and vision therapy from their curriculum. However, they will increase the amount of disease training to match the future of Optometry. He also explained how computers could never replace the person to person contact during diagnosis and treatment. It has been observed that Optometrists spend more time talking to their patients than any other profession, which means interpersonal skills are key.
Dr. Earley was kind enough to give us some important advice. He first said that it is important to choose a school with a very strong foundation in the basis of optometry as well as one with a very diverse patient population such as one with disease, toddlers, babies, and the elderly. It is also important to look for low vision and vision therapy. Another piece of advice he gave was to look for a clinic with differing economic status (this typically means more disease) and patients with extra income (this gives opportunity to perform vision therapy, and advanced contact lenses). Also, look for a school that doesn’t depend on residents, they will get the tough cases, not you. At Optometry school you should be getting the experience and YOU see the tough patients. It is also important to look for a school with very low faculty/student ratios as this will give you important connections and will make it easier to ask questions. Also, a school that is consciously aware that you are going to live and die by your interpersonal skills, and not your technical skills is a very good school to have. At Ohio State, there is a leadership initiative which was made specifically to develop intrapersonal skills that are crucial for optometry today.
Jen Bennett was also able to come and talk with us at this meeting. She told us it is important to develop these skills to make this a profession you love, and not just a job. She also explained the I-CE Leadership Model which is the only leadership assessment like this at a school or college of optometry and is not just a leadership class. At Ohio State there are 23 Different student organizations which can be used as a type of “leadership lab”, this will help to develop leadership skills outside of what you have learned. OSU also has a great relationship with the Ohio Optometric Association which is great for job matching. Another great opportunity at Ohio State is the Health Sciences Business Minor which will be helpful for those that would like a background in business, especially for those hoping to create their own practice.
This was all wonderful advice and it was great to hear more about Ohio State’s College of Optometry and all of the opportunities they offer! Thank you to Dr. Earley and Jen for taking the time to come and speak with us about the profession of Optometry and for sharing so much information!