My first year as a graduate

11 February 2021

Alger Yeo is a second-year graduate optometrist. He studied at the Queensland University of Technology and is now working at Specsavers Riverton, WA. 

After graduating from university, my journey as a new graduate started in Perth. As an international student from Singapore who studied in Australia, I did not have much trouble settling down in Perth as I was used to being away from home. However, just like my other fellow new graduates, I was anxious about seeing my first patient in Specsavers Riverton.

I vividly remembered struggling during my very first consultation, juggling between managing my rusty communication and clinical skills with the patient. Even though I felt lost initially, those skills started becoming second nature as I got comfortable with seeing more patients and handling a variety of cases.  This would not have been possible without the strong support of my mentor and colleagues.

The open-door policy was helpful in my learning experience as I was able to get clinical advice or a second opinion to manage cases that I had difficulty with before discharging the patient. Regular protected time was also organised by my mentor for us to engage and give feedback in a safe space. Those sessions were not only beneficial for my professional development but allowed us to become closer and more comfortable with each other. It also helps that we can easily share common topics as our age gap is small and my mentor coincidentally used to be from Singapore!

The COVID-19 pandemic altered the lives of many which includes us, graduate optometrists. I was not entitled to any government subsidies due to my visa status and had to live off my savings with many uncertainties. Although those times were tough, I am extremely grateful to have store partners with big hearts who offered me financial help to stay afloat during this challenging time. They also worked extremely hard to bring the team back to the practice as quickly as they can.

Although the pandemic has caused a rocky start to my journey as a fresh graduate, the situation did eventually get better and my overall experience in Perth and Specsavers Riverton so far has been positive.