Dr Sampalis: What I wish I knew before entering optometry

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Maria Sampalis, OD, shares what she wishes she knew before entering the field.

Maria Sampalis, OD, owner of Sampalis Eye Care, shares what she wished she knew when first entering optometry.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:

For me, optometry kind of fell by accident. One of the things that I look back now and I'm like, how crazy was this, was I only applied to one optometry school. And if I didn't get in, I wasn't going to go.

I was looking at a different healthcare field, and ended up getting in and shadowing my local optometrist, and really liked it. And I liked the business aspects of optometry. And I think that's important.

But what I didn't realize is how long it took to get to where I wanted to be. And my thing was I wanted to fast track it, but where I wanted to be took about 15 years: to have my own practice, to have multiple practices, to be where I wanted to be in my career. And I didn't realize that it took that long, but I'm first generation optometrist, so I think that has something to do with it too.

And I tell doctors, if you are first generation, try to find a mentor, you know, but it's also good to kind of learn from your mistakes, because it makes you a better business person, better optometrist; and take those risks that, you know, you might not might not consider, because those are the risks that pay off in the end and some of the job opportunities that have come up for me over the last couple of years I never really considered, and then they've been the best decisions of my career.

So take that side job, you know, do the fill-in work, there's a lot of opportunity to learn things in optometry that don't have to be the traditional way.