Optometry is a profession that combines science and technology to help people enhance and maintain their eye health. Optometrists are the primary health-care professionals for the eye, providing examination, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases within the eye and its surrounding structures. For more detailed career description, including nature of the work, education, job outlook and earnings, visit www.bls.gov/oco/ocos073.htm.

Pre-Health Professions Advising

Optometry is a profession that combines science and technology with helping people to enhance and maintain their eye care. Optometrists are the primary health care professionals for the eye by their examination, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases within the eye and its surrounding structures. For more career description including nature of the work, education, job outlook and earnings visit www.bls.gov/oco/ocos073.htm

Academic Requirements
Most students accepted by a school or college of optometry have completed an undergraduate degree. While no specific major is required for admission into an optometry school, there are some things to consider when selecting a major.

  • Select a major based on your interests and aptitudes, so that you will enjoy your courses and do well in them. Should you change your mind about optometry or be unable to gain admission to optometry school, a major should also provide an acceptable alternative career choice.
  • Select a major that will prove your ability to handle the rigor of optometry school. In other words, challenge yourself with course selections/majors as they will be evaluated by admissions committees. You should be able to prove that you can handle heavy science loads as you will have to do in optometry school.
  • Consult with Health Science Coordinator, Patti Burgmeier, or Dr. Tom Davis should you need any guidance.

Although the majority of all optometric students have a college degree, the minimum requirement for all optometry schools is completion of 90 semester hours of college coursework. Listed below are the common prerequisite courses for most optometry schools:

  • General Biology with lab
  • General Chemistry with lab
  • Organic Chemistry/ with lab
  • General Physics with lab
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Calculus
  • Psychology
  • Statistics
  • English
  • Social Science

Recommended elective courses include: Biochemistry, Cellular Biology, Human Anatomy, Physiology, Genetics, Computer Science, Business, Economics, Sociology, Public Speaking and additional Psychology courses.

Source: Optometry: A Career Guide. Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, April 2008.

There are 18 accredited optometry schools in the U.S. and while the aforementioned are overall general requirements for most schools, it is wise to check with each school individually on their prerequisites. You can find a listing of these schools by going to www.opted.org, or by visiting with the Health Science Coordinator, Patti Burgmeier.

The Optometry Admission Test is a standardized examination that all pre-optometry students are required to take in order to make application into optometry school. It is designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. All schools and colleges of optometry require the OAT. Students should consider taking the exam the spring of their junior year. Courses helpful in preparation for the OAT include: one year biology/zoology, one year general chemistry, one year organic chemistry, and one year college physics.

The test is comprised exclusively of multiple-choice test items and is offered in a computerized format. It consists of the following four parts: Survey of the Natural Sciences (biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning.

For more information on the OAT, including test preparation materials and study tips, visit the following websites:

Optometry Experience
Shadow, observe, volunteer or work with a practicing optometrist. All optometry schools strongly encourage prospective students to contact and spend time with an optometrist practicing in their area. The primary goal is to guarantee that you are confident in your career choice and to assure the admissions committees that you are making an informed decision. Contact Health Science Coordinator, Patti Burgmeier, for a list of the optometrists in the Dubuque area.

Contact optometrists in the Dubuque area or your hometown to discuss current issues in the profession, or visit the American Optometric Association at www.aoa.org.

Read journals and professional publications related to optometry and healthcare in general.

Extracurricular Activities
Admissions committees view extracurricular activities as positive signs that you can handle a rigorous curriculum and still participate in campus or community affairs. Commitment, leadership, service, responsibility, and the ability to interact effectively with others are among the qualities that the optometry schools evaluate. The level and quality of your participation is more important than the number or diversity of your activities. The Health Science Club is an excellent way to be involved in the campus community and gain those important qualities.

Are You a Good Candidate?
There is a misperception that admissions committees seek some ideal combination of characteristics in the applicants they select for admission. Optometry schools look favorably on diversity of an entering class and seek out individuals who display the following:

  • Intellectual ability and academic success. Admission committees examine academic scores including cumulative GPA, science GPA (math & science courses) and OAT (Optometry Admission Test) scores.
  • Personal Characteristics such as leadership ability, motivation, maturity, and service commitment to name a few.
  • Understanding and passion for the profession. Admission committees will seek out how the student has demonstrated an interest in the optometry profession and developed knowledge of the profession. Experience in a health care setting, awareness of current events related to the profession, and interaction with health care professionals provides evidence of understanding and passion.
  • Service commitment is extremely important in optometry and can be obtained many different ways on the college campus. The experiences can give the students a background filled with diversity.
  • Manual dexterity skills. Optometrists must manipulate fine optical measuring devices and computer-controlled instruments.
  • Good business sense, personal finance, self-discipline, and communication skills are helpful for success in private practice.
Application Process
The following are common components required for admission to any of the schools and colleges:
  • A properly completed application for admission, including a personal essay
  • Official transcripts from all colleges attended
  • Official OAT scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Optometry experience/exposure
  • Personal interview
OptomCAS, the centralized application service for schools and colleges of optometry launched in July 2009. OptomCAS is a convenient, web-based application service that allows student to apply to any number of participating optometry programs. Additional information can be found at www.optomcas.org For additional information on interviewing, personal statements, application outcomes, etc. follow the links on the medicine webpage.Optometry Resources Additional Sources for this website include:Health Professions Admissions Guide; Strategy for Success. National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, 7th edition. 2007.
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