For Specsavers graduate optometrist Sheila Lam, treating a range of patients and pathology is all in a day’s work.

Sheila, who joined Specsavers as a first-year graduate in February at the Wetherill Park store in New South Wales, says the job blends together her passions for healthcare and helping people.

“As an individual, I am strongly passionate about helping people improve their quality of life and I have always been interested in health care. I also like interacting with people! I knew that as an optometrist, I would get the opportunity to balance health care and making a difference in people’s lives by enabling them to achieve clear vision. In addition, I would get the opportunity to work with a range of people from all walks of life and build really good rapport with them,” she says.

While her first year of practice hasn’t been without challenges – namely COVID-19, lockdowns and restrictions – Sheila says she has learned so much in 11 short months!

“I originally chose to come and work at Specsavers because I knew the graduate program here was very comprehensive. I knew Specsavers was focused on supporting their graduates and that the directors have an ‘open door policy’ where they are on hand to provide support and encouragement.”

Sheila says she also loved that Specsavers has all the latest technology to enable optometrists to do further investigations and work collaboratively with local tertiary providers.

“At Wetherill Park, we do see quite a lot of pathology and we’re encouraged to develop good relationships with specialists in the area and refer patients as required,” she says.

And it was this commitment to collaborative care that saw Sheila tap into local healthcare resources to assist a patient last month.

Sheila saw the patient, a 55-year-old female as part of her routine eye test. It was during a general conversation in the test room that the patient mentioned that she had blurry vision when looking to her left side that had just started to occur in the past two months – which prompted further investigation.

Sheila requested a same day visual field test and once she had the result, referred the patient to ophthalmologist Dr Colin Clement, who performed an MRI scan and identified that an optic nerve head meningioma was the cause of her symptoms, and then urgently referred her on to a neurosurgeon.

Sheila has subsequently touched base with the patient a few times since her appointment, and the customer is very thankful for helping her get in to see a specialist so quickly.

“It’s been great to see that I’ve been able to be part of her healthcare journey and it shows me just how much I have learned and grown in my first year as a graduate,” she says.

“It was quite the transition moving from university into real-life optometry practice; seeing so many patients has helped me to develop my clinical skills and grow as an eye care practitioner.”

Sheila says she plans to continue this into her second year.

“I’m focused on improving myself and learning as much from the graduate program as I can,” she says. “I have my eye on Pathway and I’d really like to become a partner one day. It’s something for me to work towards and in the meantime, I’m focusing on providing my patients with the best care that I can.”