9 Simple Steps to Get Started as a New OD

Commencement ceremonies are now upon us at each of the twenty-three optometry schools around the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico!

We will have one more opportunity to celebrate with our fellow classmates as we did four years prior at orientation week. With graduation comes excitement, relief, and tears of joy as we wait to shake the president’s hand. After all the pictures are taken and hugs given, we will each go our separate ways to begin our new journey.

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Some new ODs have been matched to a residency and others have networked their way into a new job. Others will go on to continue the legacy of their parents practice and others may work in corporate. But what about the ones still looking for a place to work?

Prior to graduation, follow this checklist to help jumpstart your career as a new OD

1. Get involved and become a member in your state optometric association

  • They will have job openings, fill-in opportunities and put you in touch with practicing doctors around your area
  • Will provide you with information about getting into practice. This includes basic legal and financial advice
  • You can begin doing local CE for a discounted price
  • Click here to find your state optometric association

2. Stay involved with the American Optometric Association (AOA)

  • They continue to fight for our profession legislatively so that we can broaden our scope of practice in our selective state
  • The AOA offers discounts and benefits such as disability, malpractice and life insurance for REALLY cheap – check it out here
  • Optometry’s Career Center is a job listing board – check it out here

3. Pay off your student debt quickly and efficiently

  • Pick the right repayment option – try to avoid paying more interest in the long run
  • Lower your principal, if possible, and pay off the most expensive loans first – use unbury.me for a good calculator
  • Work as many hours as you can at the beginning of your career to help lower your debt level
  • Do not commit to fancy items like a new car or house early on
  • This may seem obvious, but do not ignore your student loans as there can be serious consequences that last a lifetime

4. Make sure your resume or curriculum vitae is on point

5. Make sure you know the state laws and qualifications where you choose to practice

  • Here are the CE requirements for each state
  • Some states require you take a jurisprudence exam as a new OD
  • Some require another board exam (Ex: North Carolina or California)
  • Some require only a fee (Ex: Pennsylvania)
  • Some cannot allow ODs to treat glaucoma without prior authorization by an ophthalmologist (Ex: Massachusetts)
  • You can download an E-book on the licensing requirements in all 50 states. Look on the sidebar for the link here on NGO

6. Get involved

  • Help out at Special Olympics or vision screenings in and around your area
  • Network with people in the community, including other colleagues. This will only help develop your name as an OD

7. Join the Vision Expo Young Professionals Club as soon as you graduate

  • This article says how to join the Young Professionals Club
  • While you practice for the next five years, you will get six free hours of continuing education classes per year at Vision Expo East and Vision Expo West
  • You will get free entry to the exhibit halls, as well as attend onsite events

8. Vision Source offers great opportunities for new graduates

9. Prep for job interviews

  • Research: Find out about the practice and what makes them thrive
  • Dress to impress: First impressions are everything
  • Be on time! Arrive 10 minutes early. Again, first impressions are everything
  • Treat the receptionists who welcome you with respect and courtesy
  • Maintain eye contact during the interview
  • Be prepared to ask the interviewers questions. This shows interest in the practice on your end
  • Be honest and be yourself
  • Follow up with a thank you note

Five Rules on How to Become Successful as a New OD

  1. Trust yourself and your abilities
  2. Do not be afraid to fail
  3. Add value to your practice
  4. Help out in the community
  5. Personally know your finances & work diligently

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