Optometry ranked No. 4 health care career for 2013

CareerCast, a job search site, ranked optometry the No. 4 career in health care in 2013, up one spot from 2012.

"I love what I do and would choose the same career if I had to do it all over again."

CareerCast has analyzed yearly survey data for the past 25 years to determine the best careers. This year, there was added context for health care: the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is expected to generate more than 5 million health care jobs by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CareerCast evaluated health care careers by pay, hiring outlook, stress, emotional factors, and physical demands such as stamina required. In the rankings, optometry came behind only biomedical engineering, dental hygiene and occupational therapy.

Angelique Sawyer, O.D., a member of the AOA's Student and New Graduate Committee and vice president of the New Hampshire Optometric Association, said CareerCast's ranking doesn't surprise her.

"I love what I do and would choose the same career if I had to do it all over again," Dr. Sawyer said.

A boost from the ACA

Dr. Sawyer believes many factors make optometry attractive, including earning potential, a favorable work-life balance, opportunities for continued professional growth and the satisfaction of helping others improve their quality of life.

As the ACA provides more people with access to health care, the number of patients seeking eye care should increase, too, she noted. In addition, the AOA's push for the inclusion of pediatric eye care as an essential benefit will open access to a whole new population of young patients.

Tony Lee, publisher at CareerCast, told Business Insider a common thread between many jobs on the list is that the professional works one-on-one with patients. Dr. Sawyer echoed that sentiment, highlighting the benefits of working with children in particular.

"As an optometrist, it can be incredibly rewarding to know that you have better prepared a child to succeed in life," Dr. Sawyer said.

Although she chose her profession long before the ACA was introduced, she sees CareerCast's ranking as promising for new graduates entering the market.

"It's exciting to see others recognize what a great career optometry can provide, and it is encouraging to see that the predicted outlook for optometry remains so favorable," Dr. Sawyer said.

January 2, 2014

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