|dc.description.abstract||Purpose: To investigate and compare the motivations, influences and expectations of Doctor of Optometry students studying in Canada and the United States of America.
Methods: A survey was created, piloted, and conducted through pen-and-paper and online methods. The questionnaire explored student demographics, motivations for choosing optometry as a career, motivations for choosing an optometry training institution, student exposure to optometry and the exposure’s influence on choosing optometry as a career, and future expectations.
Pilot Study: Students at the University of Waterloo in first and fourth year participated in a pen-and-paper survey in January of 2019. Students on campus were recruited following an in-class lecture and students on clerkship were e-mailed requesting their participation.
Main Study: Students enrolled in their first year at 11 participating Schools and Colleges of Optometry across Canada and the United States were recruited in January 2020, through local representatives, to participate in an online survey using the web application REDCap®.
Data were analyzed and descriptive statistics calculated using SPSS Statistics® 26.
Pilot Study: Eighty-eight percent of (77 out of 88) first-year students and 43% of (39 out of 91) fourth-year students chose to participate. Thirteen percent of the fourth-year students on clerkship chose to participate. The top three reasons for choosing optometry as a career for both first- and fourth-year students were Good work/life balance (First year=1st, Fourth year=1st), Desire to help people (First year=2nd, Fourth year=3rd), and Interest in health science/ eye health (First year=3rd, Fourth year=2nd). The top 3 reasons for choosing the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science were: The optometry program is the only one available in my country taught in a language I am fluent in (First year=1st, Fourth year=1st), Program cost (First year=2nd, Fourth year=2nd), Location was close to home (First year=3rd), and Program Reputation (Fourth year=3rd).
Main Study: Twenty nine percent (259 out of 901) of optometry students from participating Schools and Colleges of Optometry across North America chose to participate. Students in Canada (CAN) and the USA chose the Desire to help people (CAN=1st, USA=1st), Good work/life balance (CAN=3rd, USA=2nd), Interest in eyes and vision (USA=3rd), and Interest in healthcare (CAN=2nd) as their top motivators for choosing optometry as a career. Students in Canada and the USA differed regarding the top reasons for choosing their training institution. Students studying in Canada chose The optometry program is the only one available in my country taught in a language I am fluent in (CAN=1st), Location was close to home (CAN=2nd) and Program cost (CAN=3rd). Students studying in the USA chose Program reputation, regardless of location (USA=1st), Location was close to home (USA=2nd), and Welcome day/Interview day (USA= 3rd).
Conclusions: Students' motivations for choosing optometry and choosing the University of Waterloo did not differ between first- and fourth-year students at the University of Waterloo. Students studying in Canada and the USA had similar motivations for choosing a career in optometry but differed on motivations for choosing their training institution. Motivations for choosing a career in optometry included altruistic, intrinsic, and extrinsic factors. Students in both countries found the training institutions' proximity to the applicant's home important but differed on other deciding factors. This could be attributed to Canada having only two training institutions, one anglophone and one francophone, compared to 23 training institutions in the USA. Optometry training institutions will benefit from information on motivations and influences in recruiting candidates. Optometry associations and the public health sector will benefit from information regarding wages, hours, and modes of practice to forecast future trends in workforce planning and compensation.||en