If you've considered a fellowship and are on the fence or not sure if it's worth it, check out my top three reasons why you should pursue one.
1. Advancement of Knowledge
I think this might be the best reason to do a fellowship; you get to further you knowledge base, and truly become an expert in an area that you are passionate about.You can choose to do a fellowship in just about any specialty of optometry: ocular disease, vision therapy, traumatic brain injury, scleral lenses, etc... Depending on the fellowship you choose to pursue, the amount of work involved will vary. For COVD's fellowship, it is required that you complete/have the following:
- At least three years of clinical experience
- At least two years/1000 hours of clinical management of office-based vision therapy
- 100 hours of continuing education (a residency counts for this!)
- Pass a 100 question multiple choice test
- Answer six open book questions
- Present three case reports on designated topics
- Sit for an oral interview
For the American Academy of Optometry:
- Accrue 50 points that you acquire through case reports, completing a residency, publications, posters, or academy lectures.
- Once you achieve the amount of points required, you go in front of the board for an oral interview.
2. Competitive Edge
Tied into those extra letters after your name is the expectation that you are the expert in that area.If you are in a populated place with multiple optometric/ophthalmologic practices, what better way to separate yourself from the pack rather than earning a fellowship. You become the "go-to" doctor for that specialty area and can really grow a practice.For new graduates, having a fellowship under your belt is a great addition to your resume. You can offer a higher level of education and bring more to a practice than every other optometrist that is interviewing!
3. Additional Benefits
- Discounted rates at annual meetings
- Access to various publications
- Professional networking
- Opportunity to become a mentor
- Ability to join AAO’s Special Interest Group
Some additional benefits that you earn when you become a fellow are detailed below:If you are on the fence about you whether or not you want to delve into a fellowship, I encourage you to go to a sponsored continuing education meeting from the parent organizations to learn more about what each organization has to offer its members and fellows.
AAO has their annual meeting (this year it is Anaheim from November 9-12) & COVD hosts a slew of continuing education throughout the year in addition to their annual meeting in April!