12 Things New Graduates Want Optometry Students to Know – Part I

1. Beware of following the advice – “Live like a student.”

By: Matt Geller O.D.

I think this is shortsighted advice. The majority of students graduate in their mid to late twenties, perhaps the “best years” of their entire lives. Why would you continue to live on ramen noodles and drive a beat up Oldsmobile? Why would you save cash in order to retire and have free time when you are 65, and be unable to enjoy it?

“I’d rather see the world with less cash in my bank and without cataracts, than to have a ton of cash in the bank and grade 3 nuclear sclerosis.”

There are two sides to my argument. One is to learn financial management, and the other is to spend money like a bat out of hell on things that will make you grow both professionally and personally.

I have traveled to more than 10 foreign countries in the last six years, and these travels have expanded my mind, my life, and my entrepreneurial spirit more than anything I have ever done. Without those experiences, I wouldn’t be writing this article today. Sure, my bank account isn’t stacked, but I prefer to live life now because I am not promised tomorrow.

Fortunately, this state-of-mind has helped me grow my disposable income to more than that of my friends and peers. The people I have met, networks I have built, and opportunities that have come my way are thanks to my travels and smart spending.

When it comes to financial management, you must take care of your necessities prior to spending for fun and activities. If you can ensure your debts are paid, expenses are covered, and student loans are being paid down quickly, then you have earned the right to start spending for fun.

Here are the websites that I use to manage my finances.


personal capital

This is an excellent financial tracker, it is free, and in my opinion, it is better than Mint.com. I use this to manage my spending, my budget, and ensure that I have a great snapshot of my finances 24/7. The key here is to not only monitor your spending, but to learn where you can improve positive spending habits and remove negative tendencies.


Forget loan trackers and all that jazz, unbury.me is the BEST way to see how compounding interest works on your student loans. This tool will show you exactly what it means when you pay off your loans via the AVALANCH or SNOWBALL method. The order of which loans are paid off first is either highest-to-lowest interest rate (Avalanche), or lowest-to-highest remaining principle (Snowball).



Forget Forbes.com and all that junk, this is by far the BEST website for user-driven advice on personal finance. It is responsive, easy to use, and comprised of a smart community of people just like you, who have the experience to answer your finance questions. I learned more about emergency accounts, investing, and smart spending from this website than I have from any finance website I have ever been on.

2. Start writing for a health care publication.

By: Matt Geller O.D.

Yes, I created OptometryStudents.com and NewGradOptometry.com (and a new publication coming soon), so my opinion is biased. Yet every single person I have met who is successful in optometry is a journalist for a health care publication.

Andrea Thau O.D., Mile Brujic O.D., Dave Kading O.D., Justin Bazan O.D., Evan Kestenbaum, Ben Gaddie O.D., Paul Karpecki O.D. – all of these ladies and fellas started their consulting, speaking, and “careers outside of seeing patients” through journalism opportunities. Sure, writing wasn’t the catalyst that got them all started, but it is what helped them to perpetuate success.

– Do you write?

– Do you have an opinion?

– Do you value your own voice and have the confidence to put it out there to the world?

Well if you do, then perhaps journalism is your best bet to get started into life outside of seeing patients. So many people don’t realize that it is not income from writing that creates your future, it’s that you are with the ‘in-crowd,” and are included in a network of like-minded individuals. In my experience, the top-dogs only do business with those who have been vetted and are “in a network” of prestigious individuals.

Writing for a publication today can mean you are building your own start-up company tomorrow. Podcasting or shooting a video interview today, can mean capital investment by outside investors in your idea tomorrow.

“Sure it takes work, but nothing worthwhile ever came to someone who didn’t sacrifice.”

Where can you write for optometry?

Anyway, the point is, stop sitting around. Take a B- in microbiology and those optometry school courses and start working on something else that will be more productive, in this case, journalism!

3. Do not get stuck in a rut.

By: Antonio Chirumbolo O.D.

One of the best tidbits of advice I have ever received, was in college, from a professor who always preached (yes, preached, he was a priest) that people typically get stuck in ruts.

“Never get stuck in a rut, it is one of the worst things you can do.”

He insisted and enforced, we all change seats every week to get to know different people in the classroom. He wanted us to listen to him lecture from a different seat, to look out of a different window in the classroom when we wanted to daydream. His point was, we tend to be creatures of habit. We drive the same route every single day during our commute, we listen to the same radio stations every day, and we find ourselves going through the same motions day in and day out. When you fall into this trap, you miss so much of the world, you simply let it all pass by.

How does this apply to optometry? Chances are, your first job will not be your last job. Often times, we get complacent, satisfied with the predictability of routine. If you find yourself unhappy with the job you are working, with the office you are working in, with the people you are working with and for, do not get stuck in that rut. Always be on the look out for new opportunities, whether you are satisfied or not with your current career. There is a lot out there optometry can offer, and you should keep your eyes open to those opportunities when they arise, and consider a change in scenery if possible.

4. Be ready to do homework.

By: Antonio Chirumbolo O.D.

downloadYou’ve graduated, no more homework, no more studying! Well, actually, the studying has just begun. After graduation, the real homework begins. As new graduates, you need to be prepared to do your homework. Out in the real world of optometry, it is critical to continue studying, and keep up-to-date with the latest advancements in the profession.

You will get questions from your patients regarding procedures they read on the internet, or new research or studies they have seen on the news. In order to answer these questions, it is critical you continue your studies after graduation and well into your career. Equally as important, if you do not know the answer to their questions, you should know where to look for answers.

It is almost a certainty that you will see a patient with a condition you have never seen before, and you may not know the proper diagnosis or treatment. Do not panic, this is a new graduate right of passage! The important thing, is to know what you do not know, and if you cannot find an answer, you need to direct that patient to someone who does.

Some great resources to help you stay current with the latest advancements in eye care, and keep your academic and clinical acumen proficient include:

  • Vision Monday – a great source of news and current events
  • Review of Optometry – news, current events, case studies, research and clinical advancements, and continuing education
  • Optometry Times –  a great publication with news, latest studies, treatments, and clinical advancements
  • Optometric Retina Society – stay up-to-date with retina
  • Optometric Glaucoma Society – stay up-to-date with glaucoma
  • The Wills Eye Manual – I purchased a copy for school, and every so often I will read it cover to cover to refresh my memory on diagnoses and treatments. It is amazing how quickly you can forget things after graduating!
  • New Grad Optometry – obviously a great resource for new graduates!

 Stay tuned for Part II, where the team at NewGradOptometry.com will continue sharing their advice!

About Matt Geller

Matthew Geller
Dr. Matt Geller is a technology entrepreneur with a track record of developing successful online platforms to solve problems in the healthcare space. Matt is an optometrist in San Diego and is the founder of OptometryStudents.com, NewGradOptometry.com and the co-founder of CovalentCareers.com!

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