12 Tips For New Graduate Optometrists To Excel Upon Graduation
Updated: Aug 17
Starting your career as an optometrist is an exciting yet nerve-wracking time!
In this video, I share 12 tips for the new graduate optometrist to thrive in their career.
The transition from optometry student to an optometrist is a big one!
Here are a few of my favorite tips for you to best transition and succeed as a new graduate optometrist.
1) Don’t stress about your first optometry job after graduation
Your first optometry job most likely won't be your last. In fact, very few ODs stay at one job their entire career.
Optometry is a unique profession with tons of diverse opportunities. Therefore, use your first job to gain experience and get comfortable in your workflow.
Really assess what you like and what you don't like. This information is invaluable as you continue your optometric career.
2) Have a professional review your optometry job contract
As you're exploring job opportunities have a professional review your contract.
Last I checked, we went to optometry school, not law school.
Unfortunately, some optometry job contracts can be really complex.
They contain a lot of legal jargon that you want to make sure that you understand before you sign.
3) Negotiate your optometry job contract
Don't forget to negotiate! Identify what is important to you and negotiate to improve upon those terms.
For example, if you're looking for a better compensation or benefits package, ask for one (do your homework first).
If you really value paid time off, see if you can increase the number of PTO days your employer provides.
Is the non-compete radius or duration ridiculous? Don’t sign the contract until it’s fair.
Everything in life is negotiable. This includes your first optometry job contact.
4) Fill in at other optometry practices
Moonlighting outside of your primary practice gives you the opportunity to see how other practices operate.
Again, your first job most likely won't be your last so take note of what you like and don’t like while doing so.
Plus, it's a great way to bring in extra income to pay down your student debt.
5) Network with other optometrists and healthcare professionals
Once you're settled in and you feel like you're hitting a groove get out there and meet other providers in the community!
Get to know other ODs around you.
Reach out to and build relationships with other healthcare professionals.
Be active on social media and connect with other like-minded providers.
When you build a strong network, you gain the ability to collaborate, learn, and grow together.
RELATED: How To Network Like a Pro!
6) Get involved with legislative optometry and your community
As you learned during optometry school, optometry is a legislative profession.
Make sure you volunteer and get involved with organized optometry at the local, state, and national levels.
Also, volunteer within your local community. I did so upon graduation and met so many wonderful people I still remain in contact with today.
7) Build a professional brand
I'm a huge advocate of building a personal and professional brand.
It allows you to generate a strong professional footprint online, including on social media Furthermore, make sure that you have a professional presence in your community.
Having a strong brand opens up more doors than you could ever imagine.
8) Keep an open mind throughout your optometric career
We all have specific expectations coming out of optometry school on what our careers will evolve into.
But life happens.
As you learn more and gain experience over time, what you had envisioned coming out of optometry school may be totally different 5, 10, or even 15 years down the road.
This is perfectly okay! As long as your career path aligns with your goals and values, embrace the beauty of where life takes you.
9) Don't burn bridges
Optometry is a very small profession so do not burn bridges.
Everybody knows everybody within the optometric industry. We're a tight-knit family!
Therefore, as move throughout your optometric journey, always be professional.
Also, if you run into conflict, take the high road
10) Embrace lifelong learning
When you come out of optometry school, you will not know the answer to every question that comes your way.
Honestly, 20 to 30 years out, you still won't! No one ever will.
There is so much to learn about the clinical and business aspect of optometry.
Embrace it and understand that every day is a new day to learn something new.
11) Be patient with your optometry career
Rome wasn't built in one day and your optometric journey is just that a journey. So don't compare yourself to your others (it’s a trap).
Embrace your individual journey. Do the best you can to grow and accomplish more over time. Really feel comfortable and happy in who you are as a professional and be thankful for what you have.
You have the ability to provide primary and medical eye care through an awesome profession. Understand that everybody's career path evolves differently and that’s perfectly okay.
12) Continue to live like an optometry student
I get it. You’ve worked hard, been patient, and will finally have a professional paycheck. You want to get out there, explore, and spend money! But, you most likely have a large amount of debt too.
I'm not saying don't go and explore the world and do certain things that have been on your bucket list (within means).
What I’m recommending is that you don’t irrationally spend money on things that you really don't need.
Don't jump out and try to keep up with the Joneses or all your friends who didn't go to professional school. They most likely won't have the amount of debt that you have.
Be smart with your finances and pay down your student loan debt (you can thank me later). :)
Optometry is a wonderful profession! Just like the rest of healthcare, it keeps changing and will evolve over time.
I'm happy to be a resource or mentor for you. What questions do you have about the optometry student to optometrist transition? 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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