Optometry student to Medical School Advice

Hello. I am excited to talk about my story and discuss my plan to apply to Medical School after the completion of my Optometry School.

Here is my backstory. I am a current 3rd year student at a well-known optometry school. I have genuinely enjoyed my time in optometry school and would not trade my years of schooling for anything. I have learned so much about the visual system and it all remains fascinating to me every day. I absolutely adore working with patients and being a resource that they can place complete trust in for their care. It is truly the reason I went into a field in healthcare to begin with.

So why am I discussing medical school? I have found that what drew me to optometry school (Vision Therapy and Neuro-Optometry) has really taken a backseat as far as my interest go and management of pathology involved with the ocular system has really become what I am passionate about. As an optometrist, medical management of ocular disease is available, but the surgical management is done solely by ophthalmology (rightfully so). I could certainly work alongside ophthalmology in certain modalities of practice, but I worry that not being able to manage cases because they are beyond my training or scope of practice will cause me to feel unfulfilled in my career. I have also found I am fascinated by the Retina and the systemic diseases that manifest as retinal disease (Diabetes, Hypertension, inflammatory conditions, etc). This is by far my favorite aspect of eye care and one that is virtually untouchable by optometry.

I am essentially looking to make a career change from optometry into ophthalmology (specifically a vitreoretinal surgeon) as an end goal. I have met a few other doctors who have had this same realization as me and have made that transition, so I would certainly not be the first. I also should mention, that although this is the front-end goal, I would enter medical school with a completely open mind and If my life takes me a different direction due to my interest in other specialties, I would be totally okay with that. My goals have changed throughout my life so far and I am completely okay with this happening again.

I graduated from undergrad with an engineering degree and competitive grades (3.77 Total GPA and 3.75 Science) and am currently in the top 5% of my class in optometry school. I have >1000 hours of patient care directly in the optometry field through various jobs during undergrad and my first summer of optometry school. I will generate hundreds of more hours throughout my last two clinical years in optometry. I also have gained valuable non-clinical volunteer hours and community outreach during my time as a student in optometry school. I am involved in research at my institution as well and currently conducting a clinical research study.

The only pre-req that I have not completed is Ochem II which was not required by most optometry schools. I have not yet taken the MCAT. My plan is to take the MCAT in the spring of 2022 and hopefully apply for admission in the class of 2023.

Is this goal feasible? Will my patient care only being in optometry be an issue? Will having such narrow experiences be seen as a negative to medical schools? I will need to increase my shadowing experience outside of ophthalmology and truly generate a broader picture of medicine.

Any advice is welcome as this process can be daunting. Thank you in advance!

Hi, Current 4th year optometry student going down the same path. taking Mcat this summer. Would love to chat about this!