The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use our anonymous form, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


Dear Career Doctor:


I am a high school student. From what I've read, I think being an optometrist is the best fit for me. Although I will not be a physician, I will be a doctor who helps people. My salary will be around $90,000 annually. I’ll have a lot of time for my personal life and be able to pay off my tuition debt. Basically I think that being an optometrist is the best type of doctor because the salary is good, it’s fun, fulfilling and takes less stress and time than being a physician.

Here are my questions:

1. What would be the smartest thing to do while in school – like a job or volunteer service.

2. Would it be wise to simply attend the University of Hawaii for my undergrad? Would it lessen my chances to get into optometry schools on the mainland?

3. Are there programs where high school students can shadow people in careers they are interested in?


Dear IKS:

It may sound strange that with all the impressive analysis you have done to plan your future, the most vocationally significant thing you said about your career plan is that optometry sounds like fun! First of all, I suspect that very few people, except happy optometrists, would think “fun” when they think of optometry. Second, people who go into a career that they think is fun are probably going to be successful.

Why? They actually want to get up most mornings and go to the office. They don’t have to force themselves to work hard or think about how to do their jobs well, because they enjoy the work.

So it seems like you have made a good choice, and I’ll try to improve your odds with these answers to your questions:

1. Try to get a job in an optometrist’s office. Even if you are a receptionist or secretary, you will be learning the business.

2. The best way to improve your chances of getting into any post-college program is to get top grades, especially top grades in pre-med science courses no matter where you get your undergraduate degree. Many schools like geographic diversity, so coming from Hawaii might give you an advantage to getting into schools on the mainland. But grades are the key to admissions.

3. It is a very good idea to try to spend a day, or at least a few hours, with an optometrist. See if your parents or their friends/relatives know any. If not, maybe some of your teachers or the principal can make an introduction. If that doesn’t work, write a letter of introduction to your local optometrist asking to interview him/her about the work. Follow up with calls. Many professionals will give time to a student who is as motivated as you are.

The Career Doctor

The Career Doctor cannot answer every question here, and she does not respond to personal emails. Please use this form to ask your question.

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The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.