• Dr. Ryan Corte

How Does an International Optometrist Practice in the USA?

Updated: Aug 17

Are you a foreign optometrist interested in practicing in the USA?


In this video, I share with you everything an international optometrist needs to know to practice optometry in the United States.

Can an international optometrist simply move to the United States and practice?

Unfortunately, no.


To qualify for a state license in the US, you need to attend and graduate from an ACOE-accredited school of optometry in the US or Canada. Then you’d need to take and pass all three parts of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.


Related: How To Become an Optometrist in the United States


Can an international optometrist use their degree for advanced standing admission?

It depends on where you want to go to school. While this list is constantly changing, here are the programs that are known to provide advanced standing admissions to international ODs:

Of course, criteria vary based on the program. It’s important to do your research and contact each school’s admissions office for more specific information.


One program international OD program jumps out

After doing some research, one program stood out from the rest. That program is the New England College of Optometry (NECO) Advanced Standing International Program (also called a “bridge program”).


It’s a two-year accelerated program designed to build upon your existing knowledge and deliver the education you need to become an optometrist in the United States efficiently, effectively, and in a collaborative environment.


You’ll begin with an intensive summer term of classes in science and clinical care. Then you’ll expand your coursework to ocular disease and care to specific populations and ocular disease, learning alongside NECO’s four-year OD and AODP students. You’ll also work in a clinical setting to refine your differential diagnosis abilities, analytical skills, and clinical efficiency.


The second year includes four, full-time clinical rotations in primary care, advanced care, specialty care, and a fourth elective, introducing you to a wide range of patient populations and clinical experiences.


Not all states are created equal

Some states are easier to get licensed in than others.


If you know you want to practice in a specific region or state, research the process required to practice in that state before you embark on your journey to practice in the United States.


Final thoughts on practicing optometry in the USA

In the United States, optometry is a legislative profession that is well defined. US ODs can practice medical optometry and have the opportunity to specialize in a number of different sub-specialties.


There are a lot of great opportunities for optometrists throughout the country. Personally, I constantly have recruiters reaching out about open positions. Also, I also see a ton of job listings on career sites like Indeed and Linkedin.


Personally, I love practicing in the United States and I think you will too.


What questions do you have about practicing optometry in the United States? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for my next video where we can reflect and grow stronger together.


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