NEW YORK—Nearly 1,100 readers of (NGO) took part in a wide-ranging survey conducted last year and shared information and attitudes about where they practiced, what types of career paths they were considering, the pressure of student debt and their long-term practice ideals and interests.

Slighty more than half of the respondents worked in a private practice setting at the time of the survey while corporate settings, including employed and sublease situations, made up an additional 30 percent of the respondents. The remaining 20 percent said they worked in other modalities.

Optometry students were asked about their preferred practice modality and the overwhelming majority said they preferred to work in a private practice after graduation. Given that some 29.4 percent of respondents currently work in a corporate setting and 9 percent say they prefer to work there is indicative, NGO writes, that perhaps students are open to a range of career path choices over time.

In terms of the realities of the “real world” of practice, recent optometry grads felt they could use better preparation from schools about the business aspects of optometry practice. Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of respondents (82 percent) said they would still choose optometry if they could travel back in time.

Diving deeper, however, NGO learned that when they isolated graduation years from 2017 to 2020 (representing optometry students at the time of this survey), they saw a split of 89.4 percent responding Yes they would still choose optometry and 10.6 percent said No they would not. When they isolated those respondents whose graduation years were 1977 to 2016, representing optometrists at the time of this survey, NGO saw a split of 79.1 percent Yes and 29.0 percent No.

NGO noted, “This potentially indicates that as optometrists continue practicing, they are more likely to change their answer from yes to no. Is this regret? Burnout? Generational shift?”

It’s hard to know for sure, as NGO qualifies that its survey is not meant to be a stringent, statistically measured survey. But as an attitude gauge, it’s interesting to see what the survey reveals about the ideas and interests among today’s diverse optometric students and new grads.