During the ‘How well do you know your graduate?’ workshop series held in late April 2017, first-year Specsavers graduates gained insight into their mentors’ personalities as well as their own. Here, attendees share their thoughts on how the seminar contributed towards their respective Specsavers Graduate Program journeys.

The Year 1 graduate workshop was held in several Australian states as well as in Auckland, New Zealand and offered Specsavers Graduate Program participants an opportunity to convene and discuss their experiences since the three-day Graduate Induction event in February.

One of the most popular aspects of the workshop was the session in which the graduates and the store partners, acting as their mentors, reviewed the results of personality profiling assessments they had completed prior to the event. The analyses were designed to help both parties understand each other’s behavioural and learning styles to enable them to interact more effectively in the workplace.

“I was able to sit down with my optometry mentor and retail mentor and compare similarities and differences in our personality types,” explains Specsavers Ballarat Graduate Optometrist Natasha Gibson. “It was a great insight to learn how they work and how I can learn from their example in my own areas of weakness, as well as outlining the strong personal traits that I can bring to the team.”

Specsavers Tuggerah Graduate Optometrist Nina de Jesus adds, “It was interesting to see how accurate the assessments were. A key lesson I took away from the workshop was that communication can be improved if I adjust my approach when interacting with my team and with patients, depending on their different personality types.”

In addition to the personality profiling sessions, the graduates discussed their hopes, expectations, fears and concerns as well as the main wins and challenges they had encountered in their first few months in-store. They also considered what steps they could take to address any issues they were experiencing, and provided feedback on how their mentors and the Professional Development Team could help them move closer to their career goals.

Mentor support

Ophthalmologist Dr Christolyn Raj speaking at the Victorian workshop

In a separate forum, the store partners also discussed how best to support their graduates, and the wins and challenges they had experienced as mentors. Many reported encouraging signs of progress, such as positive patient feedback, greater team integration and involvement, and reduced test times.

“I found the most rewarding part of the workshop to be the one-on-one time with my graduate and dispensing partner,” states Daivik Lawton, Optometry Partner at Specsavers The Glen. “It gave us time to really start gelling and reinforced that we were moving in the right direction.”

Reflecting on what he took away from the workshop, Specsavers Hornsby Optometry Partner Roland Tan says a big focus was on ensuring there was 100% protected time rostered in weekly to discuss patient care, productivity and career progression with his graduate.

“Mentoring is about sharing knowledge, insight and experience, with a clear mutual understanding and expectation, in a challenging and supportive environment so the mentee can gain the skills and confidence to excel in the profession,” he says.

The workshops concluded with a light dinner followed by a CPD evening. A local ophthalmologist presented on age-related macular degeneration in each region, with a focus on the RANZCO referral pathway and improving share patient care. The evening also included Grand Rounds, where the graduates discussed cases in small groups, sharing knowledge, reviewing patient management and receiving feedback from their peers.

The Specsavers Graduate Program offers multiple opportunities for graduate optometrists and their mentors to come together through workshops, professional development events and networking functions, ensuring both parties have a chance to provide feedback, discuss shared experiences and gain all the support they need throughout the two-year graduate journey.

For more information on the Specsavers Graduate Program, email anz.professionaldevelopment@specsavers.com