Considering a Career in Optometry?
An excellent way for prospective optometry students to learn about a career in optometry is to work or volunteer in an optometric practice. Opportunities may exist for you to "shadow" an optometrist (pre-optometry internship).
Some practitioners, including Berkeley Optometry faculty and alumni, are dedicated to promoting the profession of optometry and providing special learning experiences for those who might be interested in a career in Optometry.
Types of Shadowing
Although each shadowing opportunity differs depending on the nature of the practice and the scope of the participation allowed, prospective optometry students may assist practitioners in various aspects of professional eye care, ranging from basic office activities to technical training. For example, responsibilities might include observing patient care, developing communication skills with diverse patient populations, and learning about the requirements for successful practice management. Many participants find that shadowing is an excellent way to see how optometry is practiced and whether a career in optometry would be right for them.
Occasionally, positions are listed on the Pre-Optometry Club's Shadowing Opportunities web page. Note: These shadowing positions are not affiliated with Berkeley Optometry, and neither Berkeley Optometry nor the Regents of the University of California offer any guarantees as to the genuineness or accuracy of the listings, or that any particular shadowing opportunity will provide the learning experience or employment that you seek.
Profile of Private Practice Shadowing
Each optometric practitioner decides whether to offer a shadowing position (pre-optometry internship) and how extensive it will be. The more direct and comprehensive the involvement in patient care and practice management, the more you will learn, so it is up to you to try to identify which internship might offer you the best opportunity.
In general, you should look for an optometric practice that provides a wide scope of vision care services to its patients, such as comprehensive eye exams (including glaucoma screening, diagnosis, and treatment; dilated eye exams; and neurological visual field testing), contact lens fittings and evaluations, treatment or referrals of eye infections, VDT and ergonomic consultations, co-management for laser refractive surgery, personalized eyewear styling, and specialized custom frame adjustments.
For example, Dr. Jeff Ko, a private practitioner in San Francisco and a member of the clinical faculty at Berkeley Optometry, describes the opportunities in his practice as follows: "Interns assist in various aspects of professional eye care, ranging from basic office activities to technical training. Direct observation of patient care helps interns understand how to establish and follow a medical model for private optometric practice. Working in a setting where a wide range of eye care services are offered teaches the intern critical aspects of managing patient care in a private practice setting. Interns also develop communication skills as they assist in providing eye care to a diverse patient population, as well as learning what it takes to establish and maintain successful practice management."
NOTE: The descriptions and comments above are specific to Dr. Ko's practice, and we offer it only as an example of what full-scope, pre-optometric shadowing might provide to prospective students.
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