Optometrist

The optometrist I job-shadowed was Dr. Jodi Kaplovitch, a new optometrist on the scene who knows her job inside and out. She graduated a few years ago in Boston (since it’s a great place to live and since Canada only has two optometry schools, one in Quebec and one in Waterloo).

Dr. Kaplovitch has very flexible hours and can schedule appointments around her time. During an appointment, she checks the health of your eyes and how to correct your vision if needed using various instruments. These instruments can be fairly sophisticated, but are actually fun to use. I had the chance to use Dr. Kaplovitch’s slit lamp, which is an instrument that shines a thin sheet of light on the eye. When I looked through, I saw a magnified view of the eye in great detail and when I made the light thinner I could see the depth of the eye—really cool. I’m sure optometrists get bored of all their gadgets, but for me it was like playing with awesome toys all day. 

I was fortunate enough to sit in during a patient’s first ever visit with Dr. Kaplovitch. The patient seemed to be a little nervous since Dr. Kaplovitch put on a cool device on her head, which looked fairly intimidating. To reassure her everything would be okay, Dr. Kaplovitch explained what she was about to do before she did it and says she always tries to speak clearly in laymen’s terms. It made the patient more comfortable and enabled Dr. Kaplovitch to do what she needed to do. Dr. Kaplovitch explained that having people skills is incredibly important in her profession. I believe from experience that when people walk into her office they are intimidated by the equipment; it is her responsibility to make her patients feel at ease. 

Job-shadowing an optometrist was a great experience. I could imagine myself being one and it has been my favourite job so far in my marathon. You get to interact with nearly 30 people per day, talk to them about their lives, and make sure they are healthy and able to see, while using cutting-edge technology.  

A Typical Day

On a regular day, optometrists can see up to 30 patients. They correct patients’ vision and check if the patients’ eyes are healthy using technological instruments.

Top 3 Perks

1) Flexible hours 

2) Meet great people 

3) Get free contact lenses for family and friends  

Job Culture

Analyze test results, examine eyes, prescribe lenses, face-to-face discussions, indoors, using technology

Requirements

1) Complete a bachelor’s degree 

2) Take the OAT test 

3) Complete a 4-year optometry program 

4) Gain a license from the Canadian Association of Optometrists 

TIP: Many optometrists work in private practices so business knowledge is recommended. 

Skills Needed

People skills, near vision, communication, patience, business training, analytical, dexterous, technological.

The Field

- It is very hard to get started in this field and build up a patient base. 

- Optometrists in Ontario will soon be allowed to prescribe medicine for eyes instead of being obliged to send patients to the doctor.