Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

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emanuel_v19
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Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by emanuel_v19 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:09 pm

Hello all,

I am at a point in my life where I want to begin a rewarding journey for myself and I want to pursue a medical position as a career. I would appreciate some insight and any words of advice would be much appreciated.

PA or Optometry?

About me:

31yrs
Working in odd jobs all my life (currently at a hotel working the front desk)
B.S in Aviation and minor in Business
I enjoy interacting with people
I enjoy helping others
I care for others and their well being
I want to make a difference in people's lives

I am looking more into Optometry right now because it feels I would get more satisfaction than being a PA. Also, I can't fathom the idea of someone not able to appreciate the beauty in the world we live in today because vision problems hinder them to do so. Especially the beautiful smiles we encounter on a daily basis. That brings me joy.

I am considering PA but unsure if I want to tackle this at the moment. I suppose I need to do more research to really understand the role and see if I want to do it.

Any suggestion what path to take or how to begin my journey?

Thank you
Last edited by emanuel_v19 on Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Pajamas
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Pajamas » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:18 pm

I would start by researching both careers on the internet and looking at the requirements for entering them. There are some huge differences. PA school is less involved than optometry school, which is a four-year doctoral-level program. There also might be science courses that you need to take before entering optometry school.

mhalley
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by mhalley » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:26 pm

PA offers a much wider range in practice than optometry. You could work in an er, a surgical suite, a doctors office, there are many options.
I am not sure how easy it would be to get into pa school with no previous health care experience. I see requirements ranging from zero to thousands of hours.Here is an example of a pa school prerequisite:
. Clinical Experience
Hands-on, paid patient care clinical experience is preferred. Successful applicants often have worked as one of the following: emergency medical technician, licensed vocational nurse, medical assistant (back office), medical scribe, medical technologist, military medical corpsman, nursing assistant, paramedic, psychiatric technician, radiologic technician, respiratory therapist, chiropractor, registered nurse, etc. Other health care experience is equally acceptable as long as the clinical experience is hands-on in nature. It is important that PA applicants are familiar with medical care environments and the role of a physician assistant, and have experience working with patients. Volunteer clinical experience is also considered in the application process and should be entered into the CASPA application, but the applicant is encouraged to describe their hands-on experience whether it is paid or volunteer.
This site lists many schools and their requirements:
https://www.thepalife.com/hce-paschool/
But if you are considering a medical career, don’t forget nursing.

RudyS
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by RudyS » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:08 pm

I'm not an expert in any of these fields, but in the health care area, you could consider pharmacy (long program to be a pharmacist, shorter program to be a pharmacy tech.)

staythecourse
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by staythecourse » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:50 pm

mhalley wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:26 pm
PA offers a much wider range in practice than optometry.
Outside of the usual caveat of find what you actually like...

Adv. of PA is it is BROAD in scope. They now don't just work in surgical fields, but in almost all fields of medicine. They are continuing to increase their independent scope of practice like NPs.

Adv. of optometry it allows one who is business minded (ahem you) to start and run their own practice.

If you want a longer road (course work) I think pharmacy and dentistry are good fields as well.

Good luck.
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cmoneymillz
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by cmoneymillz » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:45 pm

RudyS wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:08 pm
I'm not an expert in any of these fields, but in the health care area, you could consider pharmacy (long program to be a pharmacist, shorter program to be a pharmacy tech.)
After being a pharmacist for 4 going on 5 years now, Id highly advise against it.
When I started the 6 yr program, the demand was high. Sign up bonuses from every company (ie $30k, new BMW, etc). When I graduated, it was difficult to get a job in a location I wanted (CT). Now, the starting pay is $8 lower at my company than when I started - with no signs of reversal that I see happening anytime soon.
Demand much lower, supply way higher.
Just my observations, fwiw

arsenalfan
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by arsenalfan » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:05 pm

Surgical PA.

DocSleepy72
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by DocSleepy72 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:22 pm

I know nothing of Optometry, however I work daily with PAs and happen to be married to one as well. My first recommendation would be to shadow individuals in both career fields to get an basic idea of what the jobs entail. A career as a PA can be very rewarding, but you must understand that becoming a PA is no easy task. There are numerous prerequisites that must be met (classwork, shadowing) in order to even apply to PA programs, and gaining admission to a PA program is becoming increasingly difficult. A unique benefit of being a PA is the ability to essentially "change careers". My wife, for example, has worked Rheumatology, Ortho Surgery, and Neurosurgery, and even worked briefly in a laser hair removal business (great money!!!). Depending on which field you enter will determine your salary, your hours, and the possibility of call (the PAs I work with in CT surgery now take night call, weekend call, and holiday call). Being a PA is not an easy career, but it is rewarding. Good Luck!!!

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Raymond
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Raymond » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:38 pm

DocSleepy72 wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:22 pm

...My first recommendation would be to shadow individuals in both career fields to get an basic idea of what the jobs entail...
+1

Unless you've shadowed several PAs and optometrists, you have no real information to decide one way or the other, unless you have already decided (how?) that "... I would get more satisfaction [being an optometrist] than being a PA."

Volunteer at a hospital, preferably in an emergency department.

That way you'll find out pretty quickly whether you can take seeing things and smelling smells you would rather not.

If you run out of the room and vomit or faint (or both :twisted:), then you're not cut out to be a PA (or MD/DO, or RN, etc.)

I wish one of my classmates in PA school in the mid-1990s had done this before starting - he found out halfway through the program that he "didn't want to be around sick people" and quit :?

Main reason he was accepted in the first place was that his father was a big donor to the medical sciences center :greedy
Last edited by Raymond on Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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spammagnet
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by spammagnet » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:39 pm

emanuel_v19 wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:09 pm
Hello all,

I am at a point in my life where I want to begin a rewarding journey for myself and I want to pursue a medical position as a career. I would appreciate some insight and any words of advice would be much appreciated.

PA or Optometry?
I considered Optometry as a career change decades ago. Research at the time showed me the number of schools available is limited. It's a 4 year program which makes it expensive in terms of earning years lost. Much of the income can be from the optician side of the business but that seems like there would be big competition from retail chains.

PA school is a far more efficient way to improve your income in a health care field. I work in healthcare and know many PAs that are thriving and happy in both academic and private settings. There are many more PA schools than there are Optometry schools and it's a shorter program. Your choice of career paths is also more flexible. As a PA, by definition, you'll never work for yourself, if that's important to you.

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MP123
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by MP123 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:08 pm

spammagnet wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:39 pm

As a PA, by definition, you'll never work for yourself, if that's important to you.
That seems like an important distinction. Optometrists, dentists, chiropractors, and such are generally business people running their own offices while a PA, pharmacist, or nurse is working for someone else.

Pluses and minuses either way but good to consider what would be best for you.

mouses
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by mouses » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:12 pm

Personally, I would rather be a nurse than a PA. Nurses help people. PAs think they know as much as doctors when they don't, so the patient is not helped much and maybe harmed by a delay in care in any non-trivial situation, has been my experience.

spammagnet
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by spammagnet » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:20 pm

MP123 wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:08 pm
spammagnet wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:39 pm

As a PA, by definition, you'll never work for yourself, if that's important to you.
That seems like an important distinction. Optometrists, dentists, chiropractors, and such are generally business people running their own offices while a PA, pharmacist, or nurse is working for someone else.

Pluses and minuses either way but good to consider what would be best for you.
In many states, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (and other variations of that license description) can practice more independently than PAs, but let's not derail the thread on the difference.

I would not recommend consideration of being an ARNP as a career change from a non-healthcare field unless that was already on your list of possible choices. First, you have to become an RN (not a bad thought), then you have to work for awhile to get the experience required by most schools, then you get to apply and maybe get accepted, then you have to go to ARNP school. At the end of all that the pay and actual job probably isn't a lot different from being a PA.

Edit; if you move in the direction of being a PA, lack of clinical experience may be a hindrance. Consider getting an LVN/LPN license at your local community college or vocational school. It's generally about a 1 year course after which you can be paid and get experience. In itself it's pretty much a dead end job but can easily segue into other healthcare fields with additional education, like PA school. If you find nursing satisfying, there are many LPN-to-RN transition programs.
Last edited by spammagnet on Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Wildebeest
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Wildebeest » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:23 pm

Hi Emanuel.

It is always good to be open to new career opportunities and extend your boundaries. Have you examined the education requirements to be accepted in a PA or optometrist program? If you did: would you qualify?

I would go for a PA designation. It gives you more options and I think that is the more marketable degree.

Wildebeest.
The Golden Rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

spammagnet
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by spammagnet » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:26 pm

mouses wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:12 pm
Personally, I would rather be a nurse than a PA. Nurses help people. PAs think they know as much as doctors when they don't, so the patient is not helped much and maybe harmed by a delay in care in any non-trivial situation, has been my experience.
As a nurse, I disagree.

TIAX
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by TIAX » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:29 pm

It's doubtful that optometrists actually need 4 years of schooling so I'd say there's some risk of deregulation and an increase in competition. I would do PA.

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Watty
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Watty » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:31 pm

spammagnet wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:39 pm
I considered Optometry as a career change decades ago. Research at the time showed me the number of schools available is limited. It's a 4 year program which makes it expensive in terms of earning years lost. Much of the income can be from the optician side of the business but that seems like there would be big competition from retail chains.
I would also be concerned that technology could greatly impact a retail optometrist job in the next 30 years.

I can easily picture some sort of robotic optometrist that you look into and it does routine eye exams and eyeglass fitting.

That could leave you in a very limited field.

As a PA there will of course be technological changes but you could adapt better to those.

spammagnet
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by spammagnet » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:37 pm

Watty wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:31 pm
I would also be concerned that technology could greatly impact a retail optometrist job in the next 30 years.

I can easily picture some sort of robotic optometrist that you look into and it does routine eye exams and eyeglass fitting.

That could leave you in a very limited field.

As a PA there will of course be technological changes but you could adapt better to those.
On a recent visit to an ophthalmologist my eyeglass prescription was determined by a certified assistant (minimal licensing requirement?) and a computerized measuring device. An small image went in and out of focus a few times in the eyepiece I looked into and it spit out a piece of paper. She handed me the printout and the ophthalmologist never even looked at it. He was more interested in the medical/surgical reasons for my visit. They charged me a few bucks for the "service".

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MP123
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by MP123 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:39 pm

Does it look clearer now?

(click, fiddling with machine)

Or now?


Is that really four years on top of college?

DocSleepy72
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by DocSleepy72 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:46 pm

mouses wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:12 pm
Personally, I would rather be a nurse than a PA. Nurses help people. PAs think they know as much as doctors when they don't, so the patient is not helped much and maybe harmed by a delay in care in any non-trivial situation, has been my experience.
As a physician, I strongly disagree.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Carter3 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:38 am

TIAX wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:29 pm
It's doubtful that optometrists actually need 4 years of schooling so I'd say there's some risk of deregulation and an increase in competition. I would do PA.
Why? What's your reason for saying this?

TIAX
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by TIAX » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:43 am

Carter3 wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:38 am
TIAX wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:29 pm
It's doubtful that optometrists actually need 4 years of schooling so I'd say there's some risk of deregulation and an increase in competition. I would do PA.
Why? What's your reason for saying this?
MP123 wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:39 pm
Does it look clearer now?

(click, fiddling with machine)

Or now?


Is that really four years on top of college?
That is, the four year education requirement is nothing more than protectionism in the industry. Same as physical therapists, pharmacists, and the like.

bovineplane
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by bovineplane » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:53 am

I went from Pilot with BS in Aeronautics to PA. Still fly although a much less cool Cessna 172. Was a good switch. Not as cool as being a pilot but also not as subject to to swings in the aviation industry business cycle. Cant speak for optometry. Maybe in my next career.

inbox788
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by inbox788 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:58 am

spammagnet wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:37 pm
On a recent visit to an ophthalmologist my eyeglass prescription was determined by a certified assistant (minimal licensing requirement?) and a computerized measuring device. An small image went in and out of focus a few times in the eyepiece I looked into and it spit out a piece of paper. She handed me the printout and the ophthalmologist never even looked at it. He was more interested in the medical/surgical reasons for my visit. They charged me a few bucks for the "service".
Was the "certified assistant" an optometrist?
Did you use that "piece of paper" to fill a prescription for glasses? Who signed it (the certified assistant or the ophthalmologist)?
Did you have a "medical/surgical" reason and was it addressed? (don't discuss specific medical issues)
Was the "service" charged for the "piece of paper" or the visit to the ophthalmologist? Were there separate charges? Was medical insurance involved? Other (i.e. eye plan/insurance)?
If you got eye glasses based on the prescription on the computerized measuring device, was it satisfactory?

OP, what folks with Aviation degrees typically wind up doing? I knew someone who was looking into becoming an air traffic controllers and said it paid well. It's been a tough job market, but do you have any job experience that has put your degree to work or any interest in pursuing that? The tides may be changing in private aviation.
Like most people who make their living in private aviation, Steve Varsano — owner of the Jet Business, whose extravagant retail space in London is the world’s only walk-in storefront jet dealership — sees Trump’s election as a harbinger of great things for his industry. The early 2000s were boom times for aviation, and the crash of 2008, after years of ramped-up production, hit the industry hard, not just economically but politically. Barack Obama, Varsano believed, created an environment hostile to private aviation: The president humiliated the near-bankrupt auto manufacturers after they arrived in Washington hat in hand on their corporate jets, and in a 2011 news conference about the economy, Obama mentioned corporate jets six times. After Trump’s inauguration, when Varsano and I first spoke, he was once again sanguine about the sector’s prospects. He got so many phone calls after Nov. 8, 2016, he said, that he started looking for a new retail space twice the size. “The guy is changing the optics of private aviation,” he told me in March. “He’s the mascot of private jets.”
...
“Good usage of a private aircraft is about 400 hours a year,” he told me. “I did the math, and my calculation is that even 200 hours of use of a corporate jet adds 33 days to an executive’s year. Now, you bring two or three other execs with him — do the math, and all of a sudden you’ve got a free C.E.O.! When the automobile companies came to appear in front of Congress and they got such a hard time for arriving on their corporate jets, they shouldn’t have been so wimpish! They should have said, ‘Yeah, we came in on a private jet, we have a million employees and we’ve got to fly back tonight at midnight to be in the office at 7 a.m. to save this company.’ ”
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/maga ... class.html

Anyway, between optometry and PA, I'd imagine the latter is more varied. But if business is an interest, my perception is that some optometrists can still run their own businesses (or be employees of larger companies and health centers) while PA are mostly employees.

spammagnet
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by spammagnet » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:11 am

inbox788 wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:58 am
Was the "certified assistant" an optometrist?
No, not even close. Not even an optician. I doubt that a bachelor's degree (or any? don't know.) was required for the certification.
Did you use that "piece of paper" to fill a prescription for glasses? Who signed it (the certified assistant or the ophthalmologist)?
It was a legal prescription for eyeglasses, electronically signed by the MD.
Did you have a "medical/surgical" reason and was it addressed? (don't discuss specific medical issues)
Yes, that's why I was there.
Was the "service" charged for the "piece of paper" or the visit to the ophthalmologist? Were there separate charges? Was medical insurance involved? Other (i.e. eye plan/insurance)?
Separate charges. Health insurance paid for the medical issue. I don't have vision insurance and was not reimbursed for the eyeglass prescription.
If you got eye glasses based on the prescription on the computerized measuring device, was it satisfactory?
I didn't get the prescription filled. I used my regular optometrist for that.

MSO4PRN
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by MSO4PRN » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:41 am

APN checking in here that works in internal medicine and the ER....

nearly all schools now want either paid or unpaid HCE (health care experience) this ranges from 500-2000 hours to apply for PA school. Many people at my academic Hospital work as scribe to get these hours. minimal training to become scribe- don't have to pay. other option is becoming a CNA- alot of butt wiping, cleaning, assisting, etc. lowest on the totem pole (i did this in RN school, so i know). Alot of places make you pay for CNA school (no bueno), the days of a hospital/nursing home offering this for free is long gone. PA school is very competitive and expensive, you will have to enroll in science pre recs and take organic chem, the GRE, and many schools will want up to date stats on computer classes and get only As and Bs. they took a hint from the APN side, and many more PA schools are opening and most are for-profit which can run up to 150k+ in loans over 2-3 year programs. as a PA you can move around specialities and such. PA is better than APN, but cost of schooling is more (my opinion). different states have different laws so YMMV.

pharmacy school- have friends in the biz, avoid this per them. over-saturation of Rx grads and new schools popping up forcing depressed salaries in cities/suburbs. My friends went out rural to get good paying jobs. Unless you do critical care fellowship or oncology fellowship tough market (another year of schooling/low pay)

Opto- wont comment much, but my optometrist says alot of corporatization think pearl vision is eating up alot of small time companies/buying out.

RN school- lowest barrier to entry, more physicaly demanding. pay varies wildly from state to state and speciality.
APN school- wouldn't suggest it bc too many for profit online schools opened and depressed salaries

additionally in Emergency med/internal medicine, alot of CMG (contract medical groups) ate up private groups. so you are working for Envision (em care) USACS, schumacher, CEP, etc.

you say you want to help people, which is very commendable, but dealing with the system (insurance companies, drug seeking patients, non compliant pts, undiagnosed psych disorders, administration, ancillary staff) is mentally taxing.

I would highly suggest talking to anyone you know in healthcare and shadow/volunteer to see if like it.
also can you handle blood/poop/piss/dead people/psychotic people/drug overdoses etc? because you will round in an ER if you go to PA or RN/APN school.

feel free to ask any more questions. I know this post kind of rambles.

bovineplane
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by bovineplane » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:52 am

Addition the APN above notes - look at phlebotomy for the patient contact hours. Low barrier to entry. Some are work when/how much you please because they are short staffed. Pays better than CNA (and no butt wiping). I have seen some good hourly pay for phlebotomist in high demand areas. 2k hours I hear is a common requirement for PA school. Might as well get paid decently.

My wife is an RN. She enjoys it. Has moved to case management. I considered it my third option behind med school if I could not get into PA/MED school. PA was my first choice. PA pay varies by location and what type of practice. All following are anecdotal from friends and not scientific. Family med is 85-110K per year. Ortho/Surg is 100-150+ ( As much as 250k in one case). Other sub specialties like Derm can be lucrative but I dont know enough to know what the typical pay it. Working in ER/urgent care is 65-85/hour in my area. More for PRN or last minute shifts (1.5x). Benefits in all cases vary.

TT
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by TT » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:50 am

I would definitely stay away from pharmacy as there is an oversupply. Due to the shortage in early 2000 large sign on bonuses and free 3 year car leases were necessary to attract a candidate is a thing of the past. The shortage was further exacerbated when the program was increased to a five year degree so there were no graduates one year and then suddenly by 2010 we were turning applicants away.
If you decide on a PA or NP you prospects for employment will be better

Bureau labor statistics growth 2016 - 2026
Optometry 7,000 jobs @ 17%
PA 39,700 @ 37%
NP 64,000 @31%

spammagnet
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by spammagnet » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:24 am

TIAX wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:43 am
That is, the four year education requirement is nothing more than protectionism in the industry. Same as physical therapists, pharmacists, and the like.
So, good 'ol common sense oughta do it?

LawEgr1
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by LawEgr1 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:44 am

I've always thought that the PA / ARNP is a fantastic career choice for the following reasons:

1) Demand
2) Pay
3) Adjusted for the amount of time in school (6 years or so, I suppose pending specialty?) it is a great return on your education investment

When I was younger, I thought about optometry school. I echo the thoughts above about the limited amount of schools, the cost and return. You didn't comment on this much, but there will be significant coursework and shadowing changes for this career. As I mentioned in another thread, if you're interested in doing this, you'll have to commit 110% to this change. Personally, I think it'd be worth it for you.

My bias opinion:

Do computer science / engineering

Total bias:

Chemical Eng :D

Alas, you need to be interested in what you do...good luck!

crit
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by crit » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:05 am

Look into entrance requirements. Since you may not have had orgo in your aviation undergrad (but you probably did have physics and calc):

For PA school: likely chemistry (2 sem), organic chemistry (same), biochemistry (same), microbiology, anatomy, physiology, cell biology, immunology. This is ~2 years of full-time coursework, and that means $50k at least. Your GPA will need to be well above 3.0, and you'll need to do well on some kind of test (gre or mcat).

500 - 2000 hours of clinical experience in addition to whatever training (CNA, phlebotomy, EMT, scribing) that takes. This is another year, at least, and the training isn't free.

So you're a minimum of $50k (over living expenses) and three years from being ready to start PA school.

Amart
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Amart » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:16 am

These are two entirely different careers. I work in a Hospital as an ancillary healthcare provider, the PA's have their pick of the litter as far as services they can train cover. If you don't mind being lower on the pecking order with varying degrees of autonomy (depends on where and what in specialty you are working) become a PA. The employment opportunities of an Optometrist are much more limited, so much so it doesn't even make sense to compare the two... imo you should consider the RN route. After some years of experience you can undergo additional training to become a NP/CRNA or even transition into management and have a successful, fairly well paying career, especially if you rise to the director level / executive management.

inbox788
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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by inbox788 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:35 am

spammagnet wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:11 am
Separate charges. Health insurance paid for the medical issue. I don't have vision insurance and was not reimbursed for the eyeglass prescription.
Thanks for the clarification. All sounds like SOP. They are just itemizing out billing for an incidental service.

I do wonder if machine refraction are accurate enough these days to eliminate the human element (a la self-driving cars).

On the charge side, it looks like the office has found a way to itemize a cost (surcharge) the same way utilities, phone companies, airlines, and many other businesses are doing to pass on a cost (and sometimes make a profit). I miss the days when the service fee or upfront cost was all inclusive including tax. It might never have been that simple, but new extra items seem to be added regularly (oil fee, disposal/recycling fee, tire fee, nitrogen fee, etc.).

It does appear that patients who regularly see an ophthalmologist, may not need an optometrist. And if you just happen to have needed new glasses, you got a new updated prescription.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:40 am

TIAX wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:29 pm
It's doubtful that optometrists actually need 4 years of schooling so I'd say there's some risk of deregulation and an increase in competition. I would do PA.
It seems to me that current licensing requires this degree of schooling and my guess is that will not be reduced.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:46 am

staythecourse wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:50 pm
mhalley wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:26 pm
PA offers a much wider range in practice than optometry.
Outside of the usual caveat of find what you actually like...
Adv. of PA is it is BROAD in scope. They now don't just work in surgical fields, but in almost all fields of medicine. They are continuing to increase their independent scope of practice like NPs.
Adv. of optometry it allows one who is business minded (ahem you) to start and run their own practice.
If you want a longer road (course work) I think pharmacy and dentistry are good fields as well.
Good luck.
As a patient, my observation is that the overwhelming number of Optometrists are employees of varying sized business practices and the satndalone Optometry practices seem to be on the decline. In recent decades, it appears that Optometrists are joining Ophthalmology practices and often do the refractions in these practices.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by fundus » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:11 pm

Optometrist here. I would not encourage my children to go into optometry.

1. Currently, there is an oversupply that will only get worse. Over the last 5-10 years a number of new optometry schools have opened, and many more are in the planning stages.

2. Commercial practice is taking over. Personally, I don't think many independent ODs will be left in 20-30 years outside of rural areas. I believe optometry is going the same route as independent pharmacy.

3. Optometry is a legislated profession, and the scope of practice varies wildly from state to state. In many areas, ODs are no more than de facto employees of discount vision plans.

BTW, there is a least one school, Salus, that has an optometry program and a PA program. Maybe you could double up to cover your bases.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:16 pm

fundus wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:11 pm
Optometrist here. I would not encourage my children to go into optometry.
1. Currently, there is an oversupply that will only get worse. Over the last 5-10 years a number of new optometry schools have opened, and many more are in the planning stages.
2. Commercial practice is taking over. Personally, I don't think many independent ODs will be left in 20-30 years outside of rural areas. I believe optometry is going the same route as independent pharmacy.
3. Optometry is a legislated profession, and the scope of practice varies wildly from state to state. In many areas, ODs are no more than de facto employees of discount vision plans.
BTW, there is a least one school, Salus, that has an optometry program and a PA program. Maybe you could double up to cover your bases.
Yes - I know nothing of the specifics, but here in Virginia there are efforts (in the Legislature) to expand what Optometrists can do. It is strongly opposed by Ophthalmologists.

One trend, it seems, is that the population in the US is aging and us older folks have more eye/vision problems and risks. So, more (potential) patients for eye care.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Carter3 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:38 pm

TIAX wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:43 am
Carter3 wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:38 am
TIAX wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:29 pm
It's doubtful that optometrists actually need 4 years of schooling so I'd say there's some risk of deregulation and an increase in competition. I would do PA.
Why? What's your reason for saying this?
MP123 wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:39 pm
Does it look clearer now?

(click, fiddling with machine)

Or now?


Is that really four years on top of college?
That is, the four year education requirement is nothing more than protectionism in the industry. Same as physical therapists, pharmacists, and the like.
I "see". Your statement was made based off of your rudimentary lack of understanding.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Helo80 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:53 pm

Carter3 wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:38 pm
I "see". Your statement was made based off of your rudimentary lack of understanding.

As with many things, it comes down to money and power --- whether it's politics, healthcare, business, finance, investment brokers, etc.

Medical education is largely stuck in the past... but hey, what do I know?

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by 4nwestsaylng » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:02 pm

You know, helping others and interacting with people are positive goals, but they are not confined to the health professions. Whether you go into a health area or teach avation or business or whatever, if you have the right attitude you will help people.Plenty of docs, PAs, nurses and optometrists and others who interact well, and plenty with the bedside manner of a tree stump.

As long as you don't develop a "mini-doc" attitude, PA work can be satisfying. I have found the ortho PA's quite happy, since they assist the surgeon both in clinic and in the operating room. You are not the doctor, you did not put in the 8-10 years post grad; if you can accept that and be part of a team it can be a happy job.

Optometry I think is oversupplied, and they do have to compete with the optical chains.

Don't rule out nursing, and R.N. can work anywhere, even on a cruise ship or on a voluntary mission in time off. With your aviation, consider becoming an air Medevac R.N. (plane or helicopter life flight transport.

I would recommend you join the Air Force and let them pay for your training. Heck, if you stay in shape, you could be a flight R.N..

As a P.A. you may find that being cooped up in a medical office going between three exam rooms all day gets old. Clinical office medicine is not a glamor job, despite all the T.V. shows. It is all about production and volume.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Carter3 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:16 pm

Helo80 wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:53 pm
Carter3 wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:38 pm
I "see". Your statement was made based off of your rudimentary lack of understanding.

As with many things, it comes down to money and power --- whether it's politics, healthcare, business, finance, investment brokers, etc.

Medical education is largely stuck in the past... but hey, what do I know?
In don't necessarily disagree with that. However I do think it takes four years otherwise people go blind or die.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by petras52 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:06 pm

Either of the two fields you're looking at will require going through a pretty tough and lengthy curriculum. As others have mentioned there are other medical areas where you can be trained and gainfully employed in less time and still have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping others. Just curious, in your original post you mentioned having an aviation degree. Did that include any flight training? If so and if you're still interested in flying there is and will be in the next decade a demand for pilots both here and abroad. Best of luck in whatever path you take!

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by emanuel_v19 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:48 am

Wow! Thank you so much to everyone that has provided me some information.

It is obvious I need to do more research in the many fields the health industry provides. It almost seems I should begin my journey with a path that requires less training and move up from there if I desire. I really don't see myself being a nurse (LVN or RN). They are special people and I don't think I have what it takes to become one. At least not yet.

I suppose an x-ray tech or Sonography job would also be something to consider. Regardless, I appreciate everyone's feedback.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by TIAX » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:14 am

spammagnet wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:24 am
TIAX wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:43 am
That is, the four year education requirement is nothing more than protectionism in the industry. Same as physical therapists, pharmacists, and the like.
So, good 'ol common sense oughta do it?
Right, the only two options with regard to certain job training are four years of education or nothing :oops:

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by dm200 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:19 am

I suppose an x-ray tech or Sonography job would also be something to consider. Regardless, I appreciate everyone's feedback.
One concern I might have about some of such fields is increased health risks from increased X-Ray exposure.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Ruger » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:35 am

Retired Optometrist here.
I would recommend optometry if a person is aware of the changes that have happened in the last several years.
Although many optometrists open or buy a private practice, they generally work for corporate/commercial optometry
to start and many work part time after opening a practice because it takes awhile to build up a practice and make money.

Yes there is increased competition from corporate offices which puts stress on private offices.
But medicine, dental and other fields are facing the same issues.

Optometry has moved into the medical field. It varies by state, but in mine we can treat a wide variety of medical issues, including
glaucoma. Many practices have a large percentage of their patients that are medical, rather than vision problems. Or they work
for Opthalmologists or other medical institutions. If you think you will only be fitting contacts, doing low vision, refractions, etc,
you are wrong. Expect a large percentage of your patients to come in for some type of medical issue.

What kind of work hours do you want? If you want to be home at night, holidays, and weekends Optometry may not be for you, depending
on where you work. You are gauranteed to work some or all of those in a corporate setting, and private offices are starting to offer more
of those hours in order to stay competitive.

Whoever said you don't need four years of Optometry school has no idea what they are talking about. Many optometrists now do
residencies or other enhanced education after graduating, especially if they are interested in working in a medical environment.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by dm200 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:39 pm

Ruger wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:35 am
Retired Optometrist here.
I would recommend optometry if a person is aware of the changes that have happened in the last several years.
Although many optometrists open or buy a private practice, they generally work for corporate/commercial optometry
to start and many work part time after opening a practice because it takes awhile to build up a practice and make money.
Yes there is increased competition from corporate offices which puts stress on private offices.
But medicine, dental and other fields are facing the same issues.
Optometry has moved into the medical field. It varies by state, but in mine we can treat a wide variety of medical issues, including
glaucoma. Many practices have a large percentage of their patients that are medical, rather than vision problems. Or they work
for Opthalmologists or other medical institutions. If you think you will only be fitting contacts, doing low vision, refractions, etc,
you are wrong. Expect a large percentage of your patients to come in for some type of medical issue.
What kind of work hours do you want? If you want to be home at night, holidays, and weekends Optometry may not be for you, depending
on where you work. You are gauranteed to work some or all of those in a corporate setting, and private offices are starting to offer more
of those hours in order to stay competitive.
Whoever said you don't need four years of Optometry school has no idea what they are talking about. Many optometrists now do
residencies or other enhanced education after graduating, especially if they are interested in working in a medical environment.
Just a patient's experience and perspective -

While I believe Optometrists today are well qualfied to perform the medical types of services you refer to, the question is how Optometrists can gain these customers/patients. In my current plan, as well as the previous experience - Optometrists did eye exams and refractions - BUT treatment of eye medical conditions were and are done by Ophthalmologists.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by goblue59 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:44 pm

I'm in healthcare. Of the two, I'd recommend PA over optometry for it's flexibility (you can change specialties, unlike physicians) and it's future growth.

I'm curious - you have a degree in aviation. No interest in commercial aviation? There is an incredible demand for professional pilots for now and the immediate future.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by kenoryan » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:52 pm

arsenalfan wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:05 pm
Surgical PA.
My suggestion would be pediatric neurosurgery PA. Or anterior chamber surgical ophthalmology PA.

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Re: Change in "career", PA or Optometry?

Post by Ruger » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:54 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:39 pm
Ruger wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:35 am
Retired Optometrist here.
I would recommend optometry if a person is aware of the changes that have happened in the last several years.
Although many optometrists open or buy a private practice, they generally work for corporate/commercial optometry
to start and many work part time after opening a practice because it takes awhile to build up a practice and make money.
Yes there is increased competition from corporate offices which puts stress on private offices.
But medicine, dental and other fields are facing the same issues.
Optometry has moved into the medical field. It varies by state, but in mine we can treat a wide variety of medical issues, including
glaucoma. Many practices have a large percentage of their patients that are medical, rather than vision problems. Or they work
for Opthalmologists or other medical institutions. If you think you will only be fitting contacts, doing low vision, refractions, etc,
you are wrong. Expect a large percentage of your patients to come in for some type of medical issue.
What kind of work hours do you want? If you want to be home at night, holidays, and weekends Optometry may not be for you, depending
on where you work. You are gauranteed to work some or all of those in a corporate setting, and private offices are starting to offer more
of those hours in order to stay competitive.
Whoever said you don't need four years of Optometry school has no idea what they are talking about. Many optometrists now do
residencies or other enhanced education after graduating, especially if they are interested in working in a medical environment.
Just a patient's experience and perspective -

While I believe Optometrists today are well qualfied to perform the medical types of services you refer to, the question is how Optometrists can gain these customers/patients. In my current plan, as well as the previous experience - Optometrists did eye exams and refractions - BUT treatment of eye medical conditions were and are done by Ophthalmologists.
Perhaps it depends on your plan-are you with Kaiser Permanente or something like that? Or a private Ophthalmology practice? They do mix optometrists into the medical area, I have a friend who works in the ER at KP and is in charge of triage related to eyes and refers things on that are beyond her capabilities. Many of my friends who work at Ophthalmology practices treat medical issues and again only refer on anything beyond what they are licensed to do.
When I was in practice, all of the insurances I took allowed me to bill for medical reasons. I don't recall (it's been a couple of years) but I think insurances were not allowed to discriminate against OD's who were licensed to treat medical conditions.
Gaining these types of patients was never an issue...to be honest a lot people don't know the difference between an OD, an MD and an optician and would call us because we were convenient. We also advertised that we did medical care.

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