I wanted to be an optometrist when I was only 10 years old. Why? I had some kind of weird fascination with eyeglasses and even though I didn’t need them, I was obsessed with getting a pair of my own. In my situation, having perfect eyesight was a distinct disadvantage, so I hatched a plan. After lots of dramatic squinting in class, I approached my teacher and lied with conviction, complaining that I couldn’t see the blackboard. This symptom got me first to the school nurse and then finally on to an optometrist for an eye exam where I tried my best Mr. Magoo impression to no avail. I would have to wait two more long years until the gods finally smiled on me when, by some miracle, I acquired enough astigmatism to warrant my first bona fide set of prescription eyeglasses! Along with my love of people and wanting to take care of them, subsequent visits to the optometrist and shadowing, I sealed the deal—optometry was now officially what I wanted to do with my life.
I made first contact with the Southern California College of Optometry when I was in 8th grade. My older sister had a newly minted driver’s license and so I coerced her into driving me all the way from our home in La Mirada to Los Angeles, then SCCO’s home. After a master planning effort to plot out our route with a paper map folded in 8 places (I had such a hard time with that map!), we arrived at SCCO where my sister quickly surmised that I didn’t have an appointment with an admissions advisor. She called me a loser, drove me all the way back home and the next day, phoned to help make the requisite appointment.
I entered high school in the late 1960’s—ouch, that hurt to say out loud—when young females wanted to be anything but what I’d chosen as my newly dedicated pursuit—a science geek. I wore thick horn-rimmed black eyeglass frames (told you I was serious) and hung around chemistry lab after class. This was at a time when women just did not pursue careers in science and being the tomboy that I was, that was fine with me. This trend continued right through into undergrad, attending many classes where I was the only female, bespectacled or not, in the class. At a recent high school reunion, many of my classmates still remember me from my high school days as the science geek with the blinders on—many remember back then being envious of my joy and passion for my future profession.
I graduated from SCCO in 1977. Looking back with 35 years of experience as an optometrist, I am awed to know that I chose this wonderful profession way-back-when and with only my juvenile perspective to inform me. In 1977 when I graduated from optometry school, the profession began a series of major changes to its practice scope: securing the rights to use diagnostic drugs (dilating drops), securing the rights to prescribe therapeutic drugs (huge change!), being recognized as physicians by the federal government and treating glaucoma. In some US states, optometry has made even bigger strides into minor surgery, use of lasers, hospital privileges…etc. If I had the opportunity to go back and make another choice and knowing what I do today about health care and my own hardwiring, I’d make the same choice for optometry—nobody loves this profession more than I do.
I grew up with optometry and now it’s your turn to inherit its future. That’s what this blog is about—getting you into optometry school and I am just the person to help you achieve this goal We’re going to talk about the admissions process, how to prepare to take the OAT, how to be a competitive applicant, how to prepare to interview, to name a few. We’re going to talk about SCCO, student life and what it’s like to be an optometric intern. I am just the person to help you because I am very persuasive, motivating and I am completely sold on optometry as the best profession in health care and I speak from experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’ll make sure you get an answer!