5 tips for your first year as a graduate optometrist

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As our 2021 graduates start their careers in store, optometrist Emma Ingram shares some words of wisdom for surviving and thriving in your first year of work. 

Finishing your last exam and getting your degree are huge and exhilarating milestones. It only gets better when you start taking patients in and using all of those skills you learned at university. It’s not all easy going adjusting to this massive life change, in fact, it can be really stressful trying to juggle a new role in a new place with new colleagues. Here are five tips that can give you more time to enjoy everything you’ve worked for:

  1. Get a notebook. I learned this from many graduates before me and there’s a reason this is my #1 tip. I spent my weekly meetings with my mentor asking them question after question about cases I’d experienced that week and my notebook was where I’d jotted down key features of those cases and all my questions. Whenever I attend a CPD event or watch a webinar my notebook is always there for me to scribble down notes so that I’ve got them handy when I’m practicing. I’ve also written my AHPRA and Medicare provider numbers on the front page so that I can access them whenever I need to.
  2. Have therapeutic drug information handy. This can look like a laminated sheet on the wall,  bookmarking the PBS website on your browser, or having a fold-out page from your notebook. To echo one of my lecturers from uni, it can look unprofessional to whip out a Google search in the middle of a consult, so having everyday information easily accessible can avoid a potentially awkward situation.

  3. Use the abundant resources at your fingertips. MyCPD has a host of clinical resources like webinars, presentations, and articles. It’s also a very convenient place to track your CPD points for the year, something you don’t want to be panicking about in November. The Intranet is full of product information and documents, but it’s also where you’ll hear about upcoming Socrates updates, promotional offers, and frame launches. What Good Looks Like (WGLL) has a lot of information about in-store processes.
  4. Know your contact lenses. I spent a while umming and ahhing looking for the information I needed on contact lens brands and prices when I first graduated. I’ve since added a fold-out page to my notebook with all of the online and retail prices. I’ve also bookmarked the specsavers.com.au website so that I can show patients how to order online. Finally, I’ve got a printout of the WGLL document on contact lens product information for those occasions I’ve needed to compare between brands, parameters, and prescription availability.
  5. Have fun outside of work. There will be days at work where you leave feeling like you’ve given everything you’ve got and you’re drained from it. It’s important to have something you can do to fill up your tank again ready for the next day. You mightn’t have had much time for hobbies at uni so now’s the time to get in the garden, catch up with mates for a trivia night, go for a run or do whatever you feel like- there aren’t any more assignments to write!
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