Paid Time Off: How Does Your Practice Setting Stack Up?

Aug 17, 2015
4 min read

Dr. Corte breaks down how paid time off for an optometrist can vary based on practice setting!

For some ODs, the word “vacation” is an abstract term.

With our ever fluctuating health care laws and insurance contracts, ODs are constantly being pressured to see more patients in less time for less money. In all reality, it’s not uncommon to hear about new graduates working 6-7 days a week to pay down their student loans!

The fact of the matter is, to prevent burning out, everyone needs to take a little time for some rest and relaxation! Let’s take a look at how paid time off can vary based on practice setting:

All numbers below are assuming W2 employee status and come from surveying multiple new graduates on the paid time off they received their first year on the job. These numbers are a ballpark range and obviously, vary on a case by case basis.

By the way, whether you are an optometry student, new graduate optometrist, or senior optometrist, you should see which optometry practices are looking to network and hire on CovalentCareers!

Private practice

Vacation: 5-10 days.Personal/sick: 0-5 days.Holidays: New Years, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Best time to take vacation: September or October (i.e. Just after the back to school rush).The breakdown: Private practice paid time off varies dramatically by office. While some offices have strict policies in place, most are open to negotiation. One thing that often isn’t up for discussion is working the end of the year rush! While being employed in a private practice often has its perks, an overabundance of paid time off typically isn’t one of them.

Corporate practice

Vacation: 0-10 days.Personal/sick: 0-5 days. Holidays: New Years, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some corporations also provide 2-3 floating holidays (which can be used for Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc). Best time to take vacation: Anytime that doesn’t conflict with corporate guidelines.The breakdown: Larger corporations tend to be harder (or almost impossible) to negotiate with. I’ve read contracts where ODs aren’t provided paid time off until working one full calendar year (yet get 10-15 days to start their second year). On the other hand, I’ve seen contracts where ODs accrue paid time off throughout the year (based on the number of hours worked). Like private practice, paid time off at corporate practices does vary but is often less negotiable.

OD/MD practice

Vacation: 15-25 days.  Personal/sick: 0-5 days.Holidays: The major federal holidays such as New Years, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Best time to take vacation: Anytime as long as there are other doctors around for coverage.The breakdown: On average, OD/MD offices offer more paid time off than private or corporate practices. With this in mind, many ODs in these practices have to alternate taking call during the holidays (which is not always the case for other practice settings).

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Vacation: 26 days (can accumulate up to 86 days).Personal/sick: 13 days (no limit on accumulation).Holidays: 10 paid federal holidays.Best time to take vacation:The breakdown: The VA is often considered the holy grail of paid time off for an employed OD! Now you know why these jobs are so competitive to land…


Vacation: 20-25 days. Personal/sick: 10-15 days. Holidays: 10 paid federal holidays.Best time to take vacation: May, June, July or August (i.e. when class is not in session).The breakdown: I had the privilege of doing my residency at ICO so I can assure you that the paid time off provided to full-time faculty members is a major selling point. ODs in academia enjoy flexible schedules however, unlike the VA, most academic institutions don’t allow paid time off to carry over from year to year.


Vacation: 10-15 days. Personal/sick: 5-10 days. Holidays: Most federal holidays (varies company to company)Best time to take vacation: During “slower times” for business (i.e. Around Christmas and New Years).The breakdown: Since patients aren’t being seen, there is often more flexibility around personal and sick days with industry positions. Often a certain amount of travel is a requirement so these ODs spend a lot of time at the airport instead of the exam lane. 

How does your current paid time off stack up to the rest of our readers? Be sure to let our readers know in the comments below!

About Ryan Corte, OD

Ryan Corte attended The Ohio State University College of Optometry and graduated in 2012. He completed an Optometric Residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease at the Illinois College of Optometry in 2013. He currently splits time between Modern Eye Care and Premier Family Eye Care in metropolitan Charlotte, NC. Ryan is a former Executive President of the American Optometric Student Association. He also serves on the Student and New Graduate Committee of the American Optometric Association.