March 28, 2023 | Midwestern University
In February 2023, U.S. News and World Report released their Top 100 Best Jobs of 2023 list. Many healthcare-related jobs were included in this list, including Optometry, which was showcased as the 21st Best Paying Job for 2023, and the 13th Best Healthcare Job. While there are many variables to consider when placing careers on lists like these, some of the attributes they considered were jobs that pay well, are considered challenging (but aren’t too stressful), offer opportunities to grow and advance, have a good outlook, and offer work-life balance.
We asked several Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) and Chicago College of Optometry (CCO) students why they chose to pursue a career in optometry, and what they’re most looking forward to when they graduate and start practicing.
Why did you choose to become an optometrist?
“I was lucky enough to have early exposure to my future career path. I got my first pair of glasses when I was two years old, and since then, they have felt like part of my identity. The interest continued from there. Being from rural Minnesota, I got to have the opportunity to dissect a deer in the fourth grade. Seeing the body systems got me interested in science and medicine, so I decided I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. Combining my two interests in glasses and wanting to be a doctor, optometry just made sense.” - Jayci McCrory (AZCOPT ’23).
“During high school, I shadowed many medical professionals, but optometry always ended up at the top of my list. I chose to pursue a career in optometry ultimately for two reasons. First, it is a profession where I will see my patients on a consistent regular basis, so I will be able to form strong relationships with them. Secondly, there is so much more to the eyes than the need for glasses and contacts. Optometrists have the ability to detect and assist in managing a wide variety of systemic diseases. We have a large role in the interdisciplinary healthcare team of our patients, and are able to help with what is arguably the most important human sense, all while exercising a healthy work-life balance.” - Sydney Gross (AZCOPT ’23).
“A career in optometry wasn’t something I saw myself doing until later in my childhood. Growing up, I struggled with amblyopia, or lazy eye, which prevented me from doing many things that normal children would do. I found myself struggling in sports and reading in comparison to other children, which was all a mystery to my family. I grew to understand that I was not going to be able to do certain things well – but I never dreamed that my amblyopia would lead to me being unable to do the dream career I hoped for since I was a child. My goal in high school was to pursue an undergraduate education while serving in the military and then serve as an officer. This dream was cut short during my first Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) visit - I was told that my amblyopia was a disqualifying condition. If we rewind the clock about three years before, something special happened during a visit to my local optometrist. During one of my annual eye exams, I was given a new perspective on my condition and a new possibility for a future career. My optometrist suggested that I consider a career in optometry due to my aptitude in math and sciences, but also because of my amblyopia. He said that there will be some challenges, but I could connect with patients on a different level than other providers. I had never considered optometry as a career before, but it suddenly seemed like a natural fit for me. It was a suggestion that came swiftly back to me after my experience at MEPS.” - Roman Somogy (CCO ’25).
What are you most looking forward to when you graduate and start practicing?
“I’m most looking forward to the day-to-day and year-to-year interactions I’ll have with patients. One of my favorite aspects of optometry is the relationships you build with your patients. Whether that’s from follow-up visits for acute care, weekly visits in vision therapy, or when you see your patients for the annual exams year after year.”- Jayci McCrory (AZCOPT ’23).
“After graduation, I will complete a residency in Ocular Disease, as I have seen the ability of optometrists to detect systemic diseases early on. I plan to work in a medical-based practice, using my knowledge from my wide variety of experiences to help advance the profession, as the scope of optometry is only expanding. I look forward to attending conferences and learning about new treatments and technology available to assist in diagnosing diseases, as well as catching up with colleagues I met all over the country during my fourth-year rotations. I am eager to portray the importance of the health of the eye to others, all while exemplifying empathy, and for that, I look forward to each day as an optometrist.”- Sydney Gross (AZCOPT ’23).
“One of the things that excites me the most is the opportunity to provide high-quality eye care to my patients. I know that I will have the knowledge, confidence, and skills necessary to identify and manage anything that may come my way in practice. There is something truly rewarding about being able to make a positive impact on someone's quality of life, and that's what I look forward to most. I know that being an optometrist will allow me to balance my work and personal life in a way that will be fulfilling for both me and my family. I am eager to begin this new chapter in my life and make a positive impact on my patients, my community, and my family.” - Roman Somogy (CCO ’25).
To learn more about the Arizona College of Optometry and Chicago College of Optometry, please visit: https://www.midwestern.edu/academics/degrees-and-programs.