June typically is associated with sunshine, summertime, family vacations, and the start of wedding season (I’ve become all too familiar with this last one). But in all 21 Optometry Schools in the United States, June means one thing…Graduation!!! Across the country, young doctors are being released into the wild filled with the excitement and enthusiasm such an achievement deserves. Some will be moving on to the nearly 200 residency and fellowship programs available to further their specialization and experience. However, for most of the roughly 1600 graduates and residents finishing their training, the surging feelings of excitement may give way to some feelings of anxiety as the reality of finding a job and impending student loan payments sets in. Many may find themselves wondering… what now?
The California Optometric Association (COA) is here to help! Student membership in the COA is free and new doctors are encouraged to apply while they are students. Graduating student members receive the entirety of their graduation year for free and do not have to begin paying for membership until January. As a result, most graduating students are automatically new member doctors and can enjoy the benefits of COA membership in their search to begin their careers.
The COA offers its members an Optometrist Resource Guide. This manual is available online and can be useful to new doctors as well as current doctors looking to update or change the focus of their practice. The guide walks members through getting their state license, DEA number, NPI, becoming a provider for different insurance plans, and getting started in practice; whether that is starting a private practice or becoming an employed optometrist. COA’s online educational resource “EyeLearn” provides numerous free business and career success webinars. Additionally, COA offers classifieds and job matching services to connect those looking to hire an OD or sell a practice with those seeking employment or a new practice. What new graduate wouldn’t like to have this great information right at their fingertips!
The San Diego County Optometric Society (SDCOS) offers local resources to new graduates as well as those seeking a change in their practice. We offer a unique job connection service which is run by Dr. John Fitzpatrick, our Society Optometric Relations Liaison. Dr. Fitzpatrick coordinates local doctors seeking full or part-time positions and fill-in work, as well as those interested in purchasing, partnering, or selling a practice. Please contact Dr. Fitzpatrick if you would like his assistance (firstname.lastname@example.org). In addition, Dr. Eric White currently serves as the Society Membership Chair and can also help with networking and connecting new members with current SDCOS members (email@example.com). Furthermore, the SDCOS newsletter and website keep a current list of classified ads that include potential work opportunities. Please take advantage of the numerous opportunities the SDCOS provides for its members to find work!
Finally, this year we are throwing a new member BBQ for new optometrists on June 4th from 1-4pm. If you have graduated within the last few years and either live or are considering practicing in San Diego, we would like to get to know you better and welcome you to the family of SDCOS. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP and get further details. Ours is a fulfilling, but challenging profession which has the opportunity to be redefined with each legislative cycle. With every member we make each other stronger and we would love for you to stay lifelong members. Congratulations and welcome to the team, new doctors!