Published in Non-Clinical
Exploring Optometry Careers Outside the Clinic
This is editorially independent content
Review non-clinical optometry careers available to eyecare practitioners in the realms of media, industry, and education.
For many young optometrists, it’s hard to imagine a future where your career is not 100% patient-facing.
However, with new innovation and an increased desire from the field to tap into new optometrists’ perspectives, additional non-clinical opportunities for employment are expanding.
In this article, I’ll highlight some of the top non-clinical careers that our new optometry colleagues are embarking on today.
Writing for major publications certainly has its rewards. While it may not supplement all of the income (with compensation ranging from $50 to $750 per article), the benefits can be two-fold.
Aside from providing additional income, writing can solidify your authentic voice and showcase what you know. This, in turn, may appeal to patients, colleagues, and industry companies looking to obtain expertise from knowledgeable ODs.
Some doctors have started documenting their lives as “optometric” or “doctor” influencers and have made quite a career of it!
My personal favorites include:
While few have made the transition completely out of patient care, many use social media at a minimum to supplement their income. Most of the revenue earned comes from brand deals for sponsored products or posts, contracts for a series of content, and/or ads running on the doctors’ platforms.
Social media has become quite the educational tool for the masses and can help transition a passion for education and entertainment into a profitable income.
A key opinion leader or “KOL” is an expert in their field who typically lends their influence or opinion towards a company's particular product or device. In many ways, they are the official “industry influencers.”
KOLs can engage in company-led speaker events, make appearances, or lend their expertise in peer group sessions. They are typically contracted with companies and compensated for their time based on an hourly rate or set rate per event.
Becoming a KOL isn’t always a straightforward endeavor. It can take a lot of networking, publications, specializations, and/or credentials (i.e., residency, FAAO, etc.) to become distinguished enough to be selected.
A medical science liaison (MSL) acts as a bridge between the healthcare community and biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. MSLs are responsible for communicating clinical information to healthcare professionals, researchers, and KOLs.
When questions arise related to clinical support, off-labeled applications, or trial outcomes, MSLs are in place to assist these inquiries.
I’ve always been impressed with the vast knowledge and support of the doctors who make it their mission to prepare students for the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) Parts 1 and 2 examinations.
Most notable is the KMK group led by Dr. Kyle Cheatham, who had recently opened their doors to young doctors as well. While the position requires quite a bit of travel (if planning to participate in live review lectures), the opportunity to transition prospective students to young ODs has its own reward built in.
As new optometrists, it’s easy to think of ourselves only on one side of the table: the examinee. But young ODs may be able to consider a career on the other side of the table. After 3 years of practice, licensed optometrists are eligible to become an NBEO in-house examiner in Charlotte, NC.
The honorarium is $250 per day with a requirement of proctoring 2 days per month. This opportunity may be more advantageous for local ODs who are looking for a bit of diversity in their day-to-day work life.
While there are many new challenges that new optometrists face, there are equally as many opportunities for the ability to diversify their careers.
Non-clinical opportunities are perfect for those looking for either a new opportunity or to change up their day-to-day responsibilities.
It gives you the chance to stretch your mind and apply what you know in a new and innovative way.