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Advice From Alumni: Careers in Optometry

Optometry is a health care profession dedicated to examining the eyes and applicable vision systems for abnormalities or defects, as well as prescribing glasses and contacts. Modern day optometry involves the diagnosis and management of ocular diseases.

Jordyn Robarge ’19

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology, Augsburg University
  • Current student at the New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA, studying to become a Doctor of Optometry ’23
  • Tri-Beta, URGO research, Interfaith Scholars

Why did you choose optometry as your field of study?

“I choose optometry as a career because of my passion for vision! Preserving and protecting the¬†sight of patients is an honor and a privilege. Additionally, I really enjoy working with people and using evidence based medicine to help improve the lives of patients in any way I can.”

What experiences at Augsburg helped you make that decision?

“My URGO research experience really helped me develop an understanding and appreciation for the research process, while indicating to me that my skill set was more applicable to a career that involved more personal interaction. If you have a passion for science, but a need for more personal interaction than a lab might provide, consider a field of medicine!”

How did you choose the optometry programs you applied to? What were you looking for?

“When choosing an optometry school, I think there are three important factors to consider: location, clinical experience, and cost. I believe location is important because it will be your home for four years! After living in Minneapolis while attending Augsburg, I had become accustomed to city living, so moving to Boston felt like a natural step for me. Clinical experience and education is important because that’s what differs most between schools. I chose NECO because they have great diversity in patient populations and a wide clinical network for external rotations. Optometry school is a very large investment, and minimizing debt is a goal. Consider the cost of living in the area of the school and the cost of tuition.”

What did you appreciate most about your academic experiences?

“The most valuable and applicable skill I developed at Augsburg that I’ve carried into my graduate studies is the ability to evaluate the quality of research. While developing my knowledge base as a clinician, I always consider the quality and quantity of the evidence that supports the medical application. Additionally, I find that a liberal arts education has provided me with a greater appreciation for all areas of study (especially ethics and sociology) that I believe makes for a more well-rounded health care provider.”

What Advice would you give to prospective optometry students?

“I would recommend that prospective optometry students gain a solid understanding of how to evaluate the quality of research as well as develop a base knowledge of optics and neurobiology while in undergrad. Additionally, start early with applying for school and taking the OAT (entrance exam required for optometry school admission). Gaining some direct patient care experience is very helpful as well, especially at an optometric practice if at all possible! My experience as an optician prior to optometry school has proved very valuable.”