Competitive applicants to optometry schools are well rounded and have pursued a wide range of experiences to develop not only their scientific, thinking, and reasoning skills, but also interpersonal skills. Most optometry schools like to see some job shadowing or experience working in two or more different optometry settings so you have some idea what the doctor-patient relationship is like from the optometrist’s perspective, and have an opportunity to explore and appreciate different styles of optometry practices (private practices, retails chains, etc.). There is no set number of hours required - it’s more about quality than quantity of experience.
Volunteering and community service, whether or not it is in a healthcare setting, demonstrates your commitment to serving others, as you will as a future physician.
Research experience is recommended and helps you to learn the problem-solving skills needed to think like an optometrist, and develop an understanding and appreciation for the scientific and clinical research that will be the basis for modern optometry practice.
Becoming a leader in a student organization, job, etc. gives you experience working with teams, communicating, and working together to share responsibility for accomplishing shared goals. Consider joining organizations such as Alpha Epsilon Delta honor society, Student Health Advisory Committee or GMT, and working your way toward an executive board or other leadership role.