Pre-Optometry Studies at Southern Oregon University
What does Pre-Professional Optometry look like at SOU?
Overview of Pre-Professional Optometry
SOU is proud to offer intensive and diverse preparatory curriculum for Pre-Optometry. Students commonly major in Biology or Chemistry in this field, but may major in non-science areas, commonly health or social science fields. Pre-Optometry (Pre-OD) students will experience a well-synergized curriculum in biology, chemistry, math, and social science with the purpose of not only meeting graduate school requirements, but also ideal preparation for the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). Though pre-professional programs represent a core set of recommended coursework, they are not academic majors themselves. This program is meant be completed in addition to standard degree programs, and will serve the student by providing necessary prerequisite coursework for their desired professional goals, but offer the flexibility to change some of that coursework to suite a preferred professional schools.
What are the differences between an Optometrist, Ophthamologist, and Optician?
Understanding Scopes of Practice
In this section, students can learn more about some of the professionals who work in the realm of eye care!
Optician vs Optometrist
Opticians serve in the front-line of eye care, and operate as the most customer-facing role in the profession. Typically, when entering an eye care facility you will encounter an optician when being fitted for corrective equipment such as frames or lenses. They generally interpret the prescriptions of the practitioner they serve, and have a basic knowledge about eyes. While some opticians can assist with identifying potential concerns in eye health, they have no training in diagnosis or treatment. Opticians often help with fulfilling prescriptions, lense crafting, appointment scheduling, inventory management, and equipment repair.
Many people confuse the two roles commonly, likely because of the similiarity of names and presence in the workplace. They are very different professions, and opticians tend to work for optometrists to keep practices running smoothly. Typically, opticians are trained through on-the-job apprenticeships or an associates/vocational training program at a school accredited by the American Board of Opticians or the Commission on Opticiantry Accreditation.
What does the world of an Optometrist look like Professionally?
Optometrists commonly have their own practice, and see patients during a traditional business week, flexing day-to-day hours as needed to accommodate demand. It isn't uncommon to see 2-3 days a week with regular business hours and 1-2 days a week with late-morning to mid-evening hours to assist with working professionals, and even an occassional Saturday. Optometrists, like all independent practicioners must wear the hat of both a medical professional and business owner who handles daily operations and supervises staff.
An optometrist typically has set times they work with patients needing routine care, or post-operative managemange, and appointments focusing on pathology. Commonly, you can see ODs administering regular eye exams to keep patients up-to-date on their corrective vision care and assisting patients who have minor ailments like astigmatisms. They tend to write presriptions to have fulfilled by opticians on-staff who ensure they are correctly delivered. Optometrists commonly provide on-site training for current OD-candidates in their 2nd and 3rd year studies and supervise their patient contact hours.
What do I need to get into Optometry School?
Common majors for optometry school tend to come from the natural sciences and social sciences, but are not limited to any specific field.
You can find majors from Biology, Chemistry, Zoology, Psychology, Sociology, Health Science, and many more.
You might ask yourself, which major is the best major? The answer is, whichever one you personally engage with the most, and you feel provides you with a professionally oriented curriculum. Keep in mind, all of your medical training/science knowledge will come from your prerequisites and graduate programs, so the other courses which make up your degree should be relavent to you.
Myth: "Graduate programs tend to pick only the Biology/Chemistry students with 4.0 GPAs"
Fact: Graduate programs aren't looking for cookie-cutter students who only know the sciences. Medical Professionals serve in a wide array of professional capacities, and therefore must come from a wide array of backgrounds. Good grades, solid prerequisites, and a passion to succeed make the core requirements for these schools, but they are also seeking well-rounded, real people who have a believable reason to work in medicine, and a desire for a given field. Want do do mental health? Consider a major in a social science. Want to do rehabilitative and therapeutic care? Consider a major in the health sciences. What about serving populations with a different heritage language? Think about a degree in foreign languages!