Guide to becoming an ophthalmic medical assistant or ophthalmic technician. It’s long been said that each person only has one set of eyes. In an effort to ensure that their eyes do indeed last a lifetime most people make a yearly trek to their ophthalmologist to have their eyesight tested.
Working in an office like this is an exciting way to earn a living. If you aren’t patient enough to attend school the required number of years to become an ophthalmologist, you may want to consider being an ophthalmic medical assistant. A person holding this position is an integral part of the eye care equation.
Becoming An Ophthalmic Technician
In order to become an ophthalmic medical assistant a person must first study to become a medical assistant. In addition, they need specific training that is related to eye health. This varies depending on state, but the additional educational requirements may take as little as six months to one year.
Upon completion of all required schoolwork, the individual is then able to write an exam that is administered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology. It should be noted that the exam, which results in certification, isn’t mandatory, and a person can work as an assistant to an ophthalmologist with or without certification.
Job Duties and Responsibilities
After completing the necessary coursework they can then secure a position in an eye care environment. The responsibilities often delegated to an ophthalmic technician include taking the history of the patient when they first arrive at the office, perform the first series of tests before the actual examination as well as administer any eye drops or creams that the doctor prescribes or that are necessary for the examination. The assistant may also be responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the equipment that the doctor uses during his or her examinations.
Many assistants who work in this type of environment will also find themselves taking on administrative duties including booking appointments, contacting patients for recall examinations and ordering supplies including contact lenses. The ophthalmic medical assistant is often the first person the patient sees when they enter the office.
Job Opportunities and Salary
The majority of jobs in this field are found in the offices of ophthalmologists. In addition some people find employment in nursing homes where eye care exams are taken care of on site. Some public clinics now offer free eye examinations to children, and a trained assistant would be needed in these settings too.
Earnings are very promising for anyone considering this as a career route. Starting wages generally average about $11 per hour, with increases up to the $14 per hour range. Many people who begin their careers as an ophthalmic medical assistant or ophthalmic technician actually decide to become an ophthalmic technologist. A technologist performs many of the same duties as an assistant but is also trained to use x-ray, ultrasound and photographic equipment that are used in eye care.