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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ryan Corte

10 Tips For Optometry Residents To Thrive During Their Optometric Journey

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

Optometry residents have a lot to accomplish during a busy residency year!

In this video, I share my favorite tips for optometry residents to thrive during their optometric residency.

Optometry residency was one of my favorite professional endeavors! I learned so much and had an absolute blast doing so.

Below is a list of 10 tips for optometry residents to thrive during their optometric residency.

1) You chose to be there - own it!

Optometry residency is like getting five years of clinical experience during one intense clinical year. With this in mind, I strongly recommend that throughout the residency process you command respect as a doctor of optometry who chose to do a residency.

One thing that drove me nuts during residency was being treated like a student.

If you decide to do a residency, remember that you chose to do an additional year of clinical training as a doctor of optometry. If you're ever treated like a student, politely remind the mistaken party of your credentials and move forward!

2) Seek out optometry mentors

Optometry residency is intense! You work long hours and for not a lot of money.

Make sure that you connect with your residency director or other doctors to seek out mentors. Find somebody who can provide advice and guide you on your optometric career path.

3) Get to know other optometry residents

I was fortunate enough to do my residency at the Illinois College of Optometry where we had a total of 10 optometry residents. We built lifelong friendships and still stay in touch.

If you have a large residency group, it's easy to connect with other residents. If you don't, reach out to other residents across the country and build relationships. You are all going through a similar experience and have a lot to connect over.

4) Practice self-care

Optometry residents are on a budget. Therefore, it's easy to buy junk food and skip getting a gym membership. Don't fall into this trap!

Make sure that you continue to eat healthy, get enough rest, exercise, and practice mindfulness.

If you're mentally struggling throughout residency, make sure you reach out for help and talk to a professional.

5) Learn from your mistakes

As an optometry resident, you're going to make mistakes. Honestly, this is perfectly okay. Mistakes provide you with the opportunity to take a step back and learn about what happened.

Anytime you make a mistake, I recommend you assess where things went wrong and how can you improve in the future.

To this day, there are a number of cases I remember from residency. They've helped mold how I provide patient care and address eye emergencies.

6) Don’t compare yourself to your optometric colleagues

It's no surprise that optometry residents don't get paid a lot of money.

Personally, I strongly recommend that you do not compare yourself to your non-residency classmates.

Yes, they're probably making four to five times the amount of money you are. But you made the decision to become an optometry resident because of the intangibles.

You're there for the clinical training and life experience. Plus, doing a residency opens up doors you may not be aware of.

7) Moonlight at various optometry clinics

During my optometry residency, I decided to fill-in throughout Chicago. My goal was to make a little extra money and see patients in a different clinical setting.

While the extra money was nice, I was exposed to primary care and contact lens patients that I wasn't seeing during residency.

8) Go to optometric conferences

Optometry has a number of outstanding optometric conferences throughout the year!

If your residency allows, I strongly recommend that you go to as many conferences as possible.

Optometry conferences provide you with the opportunity to network, learn from your peers, share presentations, and have an absolute blast!

9) Start your optometry job search early

One of the overlooked benefits of doing an optometry residency is you get an additional year to define further what you like and what you don't like.

Once you narrow down your clinical interests, you have more time to research where you want to practice, how you want to practice, and in what modality.

Personally, I recommend that you start your job search early on (somewhere around the January or February mark of your residency year). Doing so will give you a lot of time to schedule interviews and practice visits so you can land the perfect job opportunity after residency.

10) Keep an open mind about your optometry career

Going into my residency, I was under the mindset I'd work in private practice once complete. After being out a few years, I had a plan to buy into an existing private practice or open my own private practice.

What I discovered was I really enjoyed working in academia. I was a clinical faculty member. I was able to be a preceptor for third and fourth-year students. I was teaching labs. If I didn't have my heart set on North Carolina, there was a good chance I would have considered working in academia after graduation.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that you keep an open mind during your residency year. You never know what doors will open or where life's going to take you!

Final thoughts

Residency year flies by quickly! Make sure you get the most out of your residency and embrace every moment.

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

If you liked this YouTube video, subscribe to my channel for more personal development and thought-provoking videos!

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