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Optometrist Assistant Duties and Responsibilities
Depending on the size of the office they work in and the number of employees, optometrist assistants may handle administrative tasks, clinical tasks, or both. Assistants who work in small offices are normally responsible for administrative tasks, while those employed in larger offices usually play more of a clinical role. Common responsibilities for all optometrist assistants include:
Prepare Examination Rooms To make patients' visit safe, efficient, and pleasant, optometrist assistants ensure that the examination room is sterile and clean, and the equipment is properly arranged for use.
Conduct Testing Optometrist assistants perform pre-examination and ancillary tests prior to the patient seeing the optometrist. These include tests that measure the patient's vision and eye function. Test results are recorded in the patient's chart for the doctor to review.
Instruct Patients About Contact Lenses They demonstrate and instruct new lens wearers on how to properly clean, insert, remove, store, and care for contact lenses.
Perform Billing Related Tasks Optometrist assistants aid in the financial health of the office by verifying vision insurance information prior to the patient's appointment and filing claims to the insurer after the patient is seen. They may also perform collection activities for any outstanding bills.
Maintain Inventory To help serve their patients and ensure they have a positive experience, optometrist assistants monitor office supplies and frames stock and place orders as needed.
Optometrist Assistant Skills and QualificationsPositive, organized job candidates who can multitask have the best prospects for this position. Employers also prefer the following skills:
- Clinical testing - optometrist assistants must be able to operate specialized equipment to perform required pre-examination tests on patients
- Time management - the ability to effectively prioritize and manage their time is important for optometrist assistants because they split their time between both the front and back ends of the office and are responsible for handling multiple tasks
- Attention to detail - precision is critical for optometrist assistants to accurately perform vision tests and correctly bill insurers
- Interpersonal skills - because they work as part of an administrative and clinical team and interact with several patients daily, optometrist assistants must have good communication skills and the ability to get along well with others
- Customer service - optometrist assistants who are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable help the optometrist retain current patients and attract new ones
Optometrist Assistant Education and TrainingA high school diploma is the only requirement for entering this field. However, most employers prefer employees who have completed either a medical assistant certificate or an associate's degree. One to two years of experience in an optical or medical office is also a plus for job candidates.
Optometrist Assistant Salary and OutlookWe researched optometrist assistant salaries and found that the median salary for this position is $29,000, with a range from $15,000 to $39,000. Bureau of Labor Statistics predictions indicate that this field will grow faster than average through 2026 at a rate of 29 percent, adding an additional 184,000 jobs during this period.
If you can see yourself enjoying work as an optometrist assistant, check out the resources below. These books and industry organizations can help you jumpstart your career:
The 5-Day Vision Care Bootcamp - author Shawn A. Lessard's practical guide helps readers learn and develop skills, techniques, and attitudes to provide more effective and efficient vision care services. Topics covered in the book include eye examinations and vision prescriptions, ophthalmic lens design and uses, and eyeglass selection and fitting
10 Steps to a Phenomenal Patient Experience: Customer Service Secrets for the Eye Care Team - Sharon Alamalhodaei gives eye care staff the secrets for running a successful practice that will "wow" patients. The author shares 10 steps to achieve this goal that delve into effectively managing difficult situations and patients, time management, exceeding patient expectations, teamwork, using active listening skills to listen to and learn from patient feedback, and using positive language
American Optometric Association - the AOA supports providers, professionals, and students, and advocates for optometric professions through research, knowledge sharing, networking, and industry conferences
National Association of Vision Professionals - founded in 1978, NAVP is a nonprofit organization established to help vision care professionals connect, grow, and advance in their careers. Opportunities for networking, professional development, and continuing education are offered to members, and the association also holds a three-day conference in which industry professionals can learn and network
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