Every year, ICO’s Career Development department hosts a Practice Opportunities Symposium that allows ICO students and alumni to come together and talk about their mode of practice. Many modes of practice were represented at this year’s event, including residency, private practice, corporate practice, specialty/non-traditional practice, and even a panel for Canadian practitioners. This was my first time attending an event like this and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I believed I learned much more than meets the eye when it came to what kind of pathway we could all take after graduating from ICO.
The most interesting panel for me ended up being the specialty/non-traditional. The doctors on the panel did a variety of things that did not strike my mind for life after optometry school. Some doctors traveled to provide eye care to those with low vision or work at a VA hospital. One doctor developed a dry eye clinic, and another used his location to expand his scope of practice to do more than most others can do around the nation. It was pretty awesome to hear their stories of how they used their specializing residency to add something different to their practice.
I learned that you don’t have to automatically shift into private or corporate practice after graduating. Dr. Higa (OD ’14) mentioned that we will all “receive good training” at ICO and to take advantage of the great professors we have here. He also said that once we saw something at the IEI, we would never forget it. It’s a nice feeling to hear what alumni have to say about ICO after leaving here.
After the symposium was over, there was a networking event in the gym that included many of the panel optometrists and vendors. The vendors were giving out A LOT of free things! This was a fun and interactive way to talk to the optometrists that were on the panels as well as some who were not. We were able to network and socialize with many doctors, asking questions about their time at ICO and if they had any wise words for the future to come.
I hope to use the wisdom of our alumni and visiting optometrists to explore my options after graduating from here. There is so much you can do with optometry. The options are limitless! As one of the optometrists mentioned during the private practice panel, “You can always change in optometry. You can re-invent yourself.”