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Case Study: Optometrist - Paul

What do you do?

Today's patients like to be well-informed, so I take a little extra time during each appointment to explain to the patient what his or her situation is and what I can do, if anything, to remedy it.

I also split my time between two different offices, which keeps me fairly busy.

What is your background?

I took a wide variety of sciences at school. During school and university, I worked as a lifeguard, a bartender at a golf club, and a clerk with a large insurance company.

My most valuable experiences while growing up, however, came from being active in sport.

I think that it taught me how to be competitive yet fair, and how to get on with people of all kinds. It also helped me develop the leadership skills necessary to set up and run my own business.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

Optometrists spend most of their day dealing with patients, so they have to be good with people.

An optometrist should also be very organised, because of the combined demands of patient appointments and running an office.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

An experienced optometrist could teach at a health clinic or even at university level. You might also act as a consultant to businesses, such as spectacle manufacturers, who specialise in eye care products.

Optometrists who have run their own practices could use the business skills that they've acquired to set up a different kind of business.

What changes will there be in the future?

People will always need eye care specialists who can deal with both short and long-sightedness and health-related eye problems. I think that there will continue to be a demand for optometrists.

Computers have already started to play an important role in optometry, both clinically (in the diagnosis and treatment of patients) and administratively. I expect that this trend will continue over the next few years.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

There are lots of opportunities to get into optometry.

The only downside to this profession is that since it is such a specialised one, there is not a lot of room for advancement. Once an optometrist owns his or her own practice, there is really nowhere else to go.

What do you like about your job?

One of the things that I like about my job is that you get to deal with people on a day-to-day basis.

Knowing my own personality (that I'm an extroverted person), I knew that this was very crucial to what I do. And, I knew I couldn't handle working on the seventh floor of an office building, on a computer screen tucked away. So, this job is definitely suited to my personality.

Number two, most optometrists work for themselves and that's like you're running your own small business. You don't have to answer to anybody above you, and you don't have to answer to anybody below you. So, that is definitely a bonus!

And, going along with that, you're actually contributing to society today. You're actually helping children see, helping people function with their sight, which also improves their overall life experience.

What do you dislike about your job?

Although there are not many dislikes, there are a few points I'd like to make.

Since it is a small business you are running, you have to put in a lot of long hours. And that can mean somewhere up to 12 hours in a day, and that can be tiring at times.

The second point is dealing with people. Some of the people can be a bit awkward, usually because they are anxious. Sometimes though, you do get the odd person who is just plain impatient and rude. However, this really doesn't matter because most people are great to work with.

The last point is, sometimes, people come in with very serious eye problems, and there's not much you can do. And that is quite sad sometimes, and that's something I don't like as well.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

If you want to become an optometrist, I really think you should do some independent research into the field yourself. I think you should talk to an optometrist and see if they can give you a few pointers.

A day in the life

9:30 am - 10:00 am

Setting out tasks to be done that day.

10:00 am - 1:00 pm

  • seeing patients
  • doing examinations
  • making diagnoses
  • giving prescriptions
  • educating patients.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Eating lunch and doing paperwork.

2:00 pm - 5:30 pm

  • seeing patients
  • doing examinations
  • making diagnoses
  • giving prescriptions
  • educating patients.

5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Doing paperwork and accounting.

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