Residency programs afford aspiring pediatric optometrists the opportunity to develop their clinical skills in performing routine eye exams while earning a steady paycheck. With more than 200 accredited residency programs in the United States, however, choosing the best option can be a daunting task.
But what exactly is it that sets the top pediatric residency programs apart from the rest? You do! Finding the best residency for you is simply a matter of discerning exactly which opportunity would be most conducive to helping you succeed on your chosen career path. With a little bit of research and preparation, the seemingly huge task of choosing a program becomes entirely manageable.
Narrowing it Down
Optometric residencies are available in various optometric specialties, including low vision, family practice, rehabilitative optometry, and pediatrics, among others.
With so many residencies available to prospective residents, it is imperative to narrow the options down. The very first step in choosing an optometric residency is accessing the residency database and discerning which institutions offer (or better, specialize in) pediatric optometry.
Secondly, consider your own specializations. What were your personal preferences during your externships and rotations? Did you find yourself drawn to ocular disease treatment? Or perhaps performing regular eye exams? These practice preferences will help you not only discern which residency is a good fit, but also your own expertise.
Once you have reached this stage, begin to classify choices according to less pressing inclinations. This would include sorting out the remaining choices by considering your preferred location, salary, or patient base.
Doing Your Research
Putting in the time to thoroughly research the remaining options is key to making the right choice. Most residency programs publish brochures with information online as well as contact information for the residency coordinator.
Still have questions? Reach out to current and prior residents at each location about their experiences throughout their residency. Getting as many perspectives as possible will give you the most comprehensive picture of the program.
Trusting Your Gut
It is important in the final selection process to visit each location in person. This allows you get to know not only the location that you would be working in but also the individuals you would be working with. Being able to tour the clinic and speak with current residents is an excellent opportunity to determine if it is a comfortable fit.
While this might seem like an unnecessary or expensive step, most residencies require an initial interview anyway. Scheduling visits and residency interviews early give you the advantage of developing a personal repour with attending doctors and deciding firsthand if each clinic meets your standards.
An advantageous pediatric optometry residency program provides value to your career and allows you to further enrich your skills beyond formal education. Though it may seem a daunting task at the onset, selecting the best residency program for you is both possible and essential to the start of a successful career in pediatric optometry.