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avatarkorra

Optometry in UK, then coming back to Canada?

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Hello, 

I have been given offers to both Pharmacy and Optometry in the UK. However, I am having trouble deciding what would a better career. I know both fields have their problems with over saturation at the moment, but I am honestly equally interested in both careers and would like to pursue one of them. 

I know for Pharmacy, the equivalency process is not that bad since I know some family members who have taken the exams and were able to get licensure in Canada. But I am having trouble finding information on the licensure process for Canada. For Optometry, is it easier or harder to come back to Canada? What exactly is the process like to come back and how many years would it take? Are the equivalency exams hard and is the IOBP hard to pass? 

Ultimately since I am getting old and will already be doing 4 years of schooling in UK, I would like to choose a field will take less time in the licensure process so that I can come back to Canada! If you guys have any information on Optometry licensure, please let me know! 

Thanks! 

 

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I would choose Pharmacy. It opens your door to USA as well (they want a 5 year equivalent Pharmacy degree, which UK schools qualify for even though the length of the program is 4 years). By doing Optometry abroad, you're essentially saying bye to the US (you'll be forced to do a 2 year advanced standing program which is expensive). You can also work in USA as a Pharmacist with a TN visa, which isn't possible with Optometry. Not sure about the answers to rest of your questions, sorry.

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14 hours ago, prehealth101 said:

I would choose Pharmacy. It opens your door to USA as well (they want a 5 year equivalent Pharmacy degree, which UK schools qualify for even though the length of the program is 4 years). By doing Optometry abroad, you're essentially saying bye to the US (you'll be forced to do a 2 year advanced standing program which is expensive). You can also work in USA as a Pharmacist with a TN visa, which isn't possible with Optometry. Not sure about the answers to rest of your questions, sorry.

US requires 1 year of pharmacy interning before you can take the boards for most people(source: friends wife is a UK trained pharmacist and had to do 1 year worth of pharmacy internship before being able to finally get her own independent license etc she did 4 year program), and you cant just immigrate to the USA as you wish. So it doesn't really open up as many doors as you think.  

In order to do the TN visa route for pharmacy, they would need to first have an unrestricted license in Canada, and then be able to do the equiv process to the US. Its much more practical if you did pharmacy in Canada in the first place. Besides the US is getting fairly saturated in desirable areas for pharmacists, its not as easy for foreign trained ones to find sponsorship and work in general. Its not impossible, but not as easy as 5-10 years ago. 

Have you looked into pharmacy schools in Canada? Or Optom schools in the US(More expensive than UK i imagine though). Both of these would be easier processes than doing the UK schools, if ultimate goal is coming back to Canada.

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If you can afford it, you're definitely going to have an easier time getting your Optometry training in the US (assuming you cant get into Waterloo in Canada), since your ultimate goal is Canada.  Although it costs alot, youll make it back, and with the saved time of doing the degree in UK and going through the equivalancy process. Getting into a US optom school is relatively easy if youre not picky. Quite a few schools that take Canadians. 

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5 hours ago, JohnGrisham said:

US requires 1 year of pharmacy interning before you can take the boards for most people(source: friends wife is a UK trained pharmacist and had to do 1 year worth of pharmacy internship before being able to finally get her own independent license etc she did 4 year program), and you cant just immigrate to the USA as you wish. So it doesn't really open up as many doors as you think.  

In order to do the TN visa route for pharmacy, they would need to first have an unrestricted license in Canada, and then be able to do the equiv process to the US. Its much more practical if you did pharmacy in Canada in the first place. Besides the US is getting fairly saturated in desirable areas for pharmacists, its not as easy for foreign trained ones to find sponsorship and work in general. Its not impossible, but not as easy as 5-10 years ago. 

Have you looked into pharmacy schools in Canada? Or Optom schools in the US(More expensive than UK i imagine though). Both of these would be easier processes than doing the UK schools, if ultimate goal is coming back to Canada.

Sure, but the bolded still means Pharmacy opens more doors than doing Optometry abroad. 

I didn't say the person can just walk in and become a licensed US pharmacist on a TN visa. Simply pointing out the possibilities with Pharmacy that doesn't exist with Optometry if you're a foreign grad. I went by the options OP specifically wanted advice about. 

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7 hours ago, JohnGrisham said:

If you can afford it, you're definitely going to have an easier time getting your Optometry training in the US (assuming you cant get into Waterloo in Canada), since your ultimate goal is Canada.  Although it costs alot, youll make it back, and with the saved time of doing the degree in UK and going through the equivalancy process. Getting into a US optom school is relatively easy if youre not picky. Quite a few schools that take Canadians. 

My GPA is averaged around 2.6 with 5 years of undergrad, do you think US Optom schools would accept me with that. Tbh with my shit GPA and less than average ECs, I think I'm lucky to even have a chance to gain offers to pharm and optom in UK. Plus I would have to write the OAT, so I would have to wait another year to apply and take it, if I wanted to go into the US (assuming I can even get in at all). 

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Just know that there's a reason you even got offers in the UK- because its a long extra process to come back. The time to improve your GPA and take OAT will be far less than redoing your optom degree by upgrading to be able to work in North America.

Given the circumstances pharmacy is probably the better choice as OP mentioned. Just know that its very likely youll have to stick around the UK and practice there if youre unable to get licensed in Canada.  

Honestly, I would reflect on why you have a 2.6 because pharm/optom school is harder.  And you can't afford to be doing that poorly in those schools because you need to do many more equivilancy and licensing exams due to wanting to come to north america.

 

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On 03/08/2017 at 9:20 PM, avatarkorra said:

My GPA is averaged around 2.6 with 5 years of undergrad, do you think US Optom schools would accept me with that. Tbh with my shit GPA and less than average ECs, I think I'm lucky to even have a chance to gain offers to pharm and optom in UK. Plus I would have to write the OAT, so I would have to wait another year to apply and take it, if I wanted to go into the US (assuming I can even get in at all). 

Do you have any retakes? Optomcas used to do grade replacement if you retook your courses at the same institution. Not sure if they still do it.

Apply to IAUPR. It's the cheapest accredited US school and they take a lot of Canadians. You can easily find the pros and cons of that school by digging around online. 

Whatever years you save by going to UK now, you'll lose it when you're trying to come back here (assuming you're able to pass all the hurdles). 

To add to what JohnGrisham said, if you must go to UK, be prepared to work in UK - this means going to a program that has the pre-reg year included in the curriculum. Otherwise you risk not getting licensed in UK.

 

 

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On 8/3/2017 at 3:37 PM, prehealth101 said:

Sure, but the bolded still means Pharmacy opens more doors than doing Optometry abroad. 

I didn't say the person can just walk in and become a licensed US pharmacist on a TN visa. Simply pointing out the possibilities with Pharmacy that doesn't exist with Optometry if you're a foreign grad. I went by the options OP specifically wanted advice about. 

Good point!
Puerto Rico though, talk about language issues :P But worth it from the perspective of getting licensed!

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Hello, I'm back to this thread since I have a few more questions. 

I have just researched Aston University's MOptom programme in the UK. This program is 3 years long with 1 year of studying and working as an optometrist for their pre-reg year. This would allow Canadiansto continue using their study visa, instead of applying for another work visa. I believe Waterloo requires a year of work experience in the country you are applying from for the IOBP, so this sounds like good news. You would then need to pass the UK boards and become registered before applying to IOBP, as well. 

Aston's University also states that their curricullum provides you with enough knowledge to pass the evaluating exam so you only need to the Bridging I (2 months). How likely do you guys think this is? And even if I were to complete Bridging I, are the Canadian board exams a whole other obstable for a UK trained optometrist? 

Even though they are saying the process is not that bad, is it still generally difficult for a UK trained optometrist to study in Canada. I would definitely want to come back so if there is a chance I cannot, I may not pursue this career, and so pharmacy instead. 

Thoughts?

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Hello, 

To be quite honest, I would not recommend going to the UK to study optometry simply because there is NO guarantee of being able to return back to Canada. You will be investing both your money and more importantly your time into this degree. That is 3 years worth of tuition, accommodation and living expenses (UK is not cheap!) + 1 year of pre-registration (minimum pay) to become a fully qualified optometrist in the UK. In order to return to Canada you need to 1) have your degree assessed by FORAC to determine whether or not you are eligible to sit the evaluating exam 2) you will need to write the evaluating exam (costs $4500, only offered one time per year and there is limited seating) 3) for 2018, only 18 applicants were selected to commence the IOBP 2  (costs $40 000, duration is 1 year - bridging 1 is discontinued). So after 4 years of optometry school, it will take 1 year to apply and write the EE and another year to actually complete the IOBP  = 6 years!!! and THAT IS ONLY IF you get accepted into the IOBP the first time around. I know the UK is more appealing than the states, but best bet is to go to the states to avoid the IOBP altogether and have a guarantee of returning to Canada. Take the time to boost your GPA, write the OAT and apply to US schools. In the UK you will be studying alongside 18 year olds, fresh out of high school and you will only get a bachelors degree and not an OD. Moreover, optometry in general is a VERY saturated field as there are optometry clinics EVERYWHERE - in malls (sometimes 2 in 1 mall) or in stand alone clinics in close proximity to one another. 

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