Bondi to Bourke and beyond… Azba Mashood’s graduate journey

2 August 2023

From starting life as a graduate optometrist in Bondi, to working literally in the ‘back of Bourke’, Azba’s first few years as an optometrist with Specsavers have been filled with opportunity.

“As a new graduate optometrist, it is hard to imagine what life would look like post-university. While I was in my final year, I decided to choose Specsavers as my place of work. Their affordability model and free access to equipment such as OCT and automated perimetry resonated with me. It meant that I could provide the best eye care to my patients and that’s what I truly believed in,” she says.

“I started my graduate career in Bondi Junction. Before that, I was an optical assistant for at Specsavers Bondi, so I have been working in the store since 2017. Although I live an hour away, I decided to continue my journey here as I couldn’t imagine myself working with any other group of people. The team at Bondi Junction look after one another and we have a culture that’s focused on uplifting each other and building on our strengths.”

Azba says as a new graduate, the senior optometrists and store directors at Bondi were focused on her development and provided valuable mentorship and guidance. “They have an open-door policy that has allowed me to build my confidence and increased my patients’ confidence in me. And, if I had any interesting or confusing cases, my mentors and I would discuss it at the end of the day or during the week, so I was always learning and growing as an optometrist,” she says.

Within a short period, Azba was taking her new skills further than Bondi, as part of a cataract surgery outreach program in Bourke, in rural New South Wales, with The Fred Hollows Foundation and Outback Eye Service.

“Coming from practicing in a reasonably high socio-economic area, where access to eyecare is abundant, cataract surgeries are only a referral away. As an optometrist in this region, it was humbling to be a part of such a great cause so far from home. With this cataract surgery intensive, it made me realise how many patients fall through the gaps in rural communities,” she said.

On the outreach Azba was responsible for pre-operative and post-operative care, which included taking OCT scans and axial length measurements prior to surgery as well as measuring vision post-surgery.

“As an optometrist, it was helpful to follow the patient through their whole journey. I had the opportunity to observe in the operating theatre, as well as performing slit-lamp biomicroscopy on patients one day post-op. It was interesting to see how cataract surgery differed, depending on the complexity of the case.

I have learned so much during the experience. After this, I know I will be able to confidently counsel my patients on cataract surgery, and know what their experience will be during the surgery as well as  their healing time.

She says it has been great to kick off her post-university career with Specsavers and she looks forward to the next opportunity to grow with the business.