How Do I Become a Developmental Optometrist?
An optometry degree accompanied by special postgraduate training is required to become a developmental optometrist. To retain the certification, it is usually necessary to complete continuing education requirements, providing evidence that a specialist is keeping up with the field. Precise requirements can depend on the region where someone wants to practice. They are typically supervised by a professional organization that promotes excellence in the field. This organization may administer any required examinations and supervise registration of developmental optometrists.
This specialty is also known as pediatric or behavioral optometry. In addition to looking directly at someone’s visual acuity, specialists in developmental optometry also assess visual skills. These can include the ability to track objects, accommodate quickly when switching focus, and coordinate signals from both eyes. Someone who wants to become a developmental optometrist needs to learn about basic visual subjects as well as the neurology behind vision and the development of visual skills. Issues specific to brain development are important to understand so practitioners can identify the roots of problems like trouble reading, poor attentiveness, and wandering eyes.
The first step is an optometry degree which will prepare someone for practice. This degree includes classroom and lab education along with clinical work so students can learn how to work with patients, generate prescriptions, and provide eye care. It may be possible to take some elective courses to start preparing to become a developmental optometrist. These courses can be helpful on applications into postgraduate programs, where candidates with demonstrated interest and skills may be preferred.
People who are about to graduate can start applying into programs that offer training in developmental optometry. The process usually involves submitting transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation. An interview may be required, which can provide an opportunity to visit the school and see if the program will suit a student’s needs. Once accepted, a student will spend two to three years in training to become a developmental optometrist.
After completing education and clinical experience requirements, people can apply for board certification in developmental optometry. It may also be necessary to have published papers, demonstrating the ability to conduct research and prepare it for distribution. The examinations test knowledge and skills to allow someone to become a developmental optometrist. Qualified individuals need to pursue a certain number of hours of continuing education each year to stay credentialed, and may find it helpful to join a professional organization. This can provide access to trade publications, conferences, workshops, and other opportunities for education and networking.
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