Shadowing an Optometrist

One of the most important things to do when deciding whether or not you want to pursue a specific career is to throw yourself into the field. Considering optometry school? It may seem like a great career path from an outside point of view, but what if it turns out that it’s not actually something you want to spend the rest of your life on?
The best way to find out if a career is right for you is to shadow someone already in that position. Shadowing an optometrist is also a requirement for optometry school admission, so it is important to shadow as much as possible if you want to get accepted.
[ RELATED: All About Optometry Specializations ]

What is shadowing?

Shadowing is exactly what it sounds like—you will be somebody’s “shadow” for the day, following them around at their workplace, watching their every move, and considering whether you could see yourself doing that until you retire.
When shadowing an optometrist, you will be sitting in the exam room with the doctor and the patient. The doctor will first ask the patient if they feel comfortable with you in the room, and if they say yes, then you can stay. If they say no, you would respectfully leave for that examination. Some optometrists will also allow you to shadow the business aspect of the clinic so that you can see there is more to optometry than examining someone’s eyes—it is also a business.

How to find a shadowing position

There are a variety of ways that you can land a shadowing position. First, you need to decide on a doctor. One of the easiest doctors to choose is your own optometrist. If you do not have a specific optometrist, you can search for any optometry clinics in your city and contact any one of them you like. Many clinics also have their own website describing their doctors and letting you know where they attended optometry school. This can be helpful, since it allows you to decide whether you want to shadow somebody who attended schools in which you are interested.
  • Contact via email

    The easiest and least nerve wracking method of reaching out is to find the clinic’s email and send them a quick (yet professional) message, describing to them why you would like to shadow the doctor. Include your availability and contact information, and make sure to thank them for their time. Mention that you look forward to hearing from them.

  • Calling In

    Some clinics may not have an email contact, so you could alternatively call in at the front desk and let the receptionist know that you would like to shadow their doctor (or a few of their doctors if there is more than one working at that clinic).
    You should also leave your contact information and availability with the front desk so that the doctor can get back to you when they are available.

  • Visiting in Person

    The best option is to walk into the clinic. This is probably the most professional and respectful way that you could ask an optometrist for the opportunity to shadow him or her because it allows you to been seen in person.
    You can chat with the doctor so that he or she can get to know you slightly before inviting you to observe the workplace. Dress well, as if you are dressing for an interview, and also give the doctor your contact information and availability.

Network with the doctor

While you are shadowing the optometrist, it is important to develop a relationship with them in case you will one day need a reference letter from them. You want the optometrist to like you and get to know you, rather than you just being another student that shadowed them for a day.
If possible, ask the doctor whether you can shadow them for more than one day, since this will give them time to get to know you. Also make sure that you stay in contact with them even after your shadowing period. This can be as simple as updating them on your schooling or wishing them a happy new year! They appreciate these emails every once in awhile.
Shadowing a profession can help you decide whether or not you really belong in the path you are thinking about pursuing. It is so important to shadow early because it prevents you from investing so much of your time, money and effort into one profession only to find out that it is not what you actually want to do.
[ KEEP STUDYING: Is Optometry School right for you? ]