What I’ve learned in my first year as a grad

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Jacqueline Tran is a graduate optometrist at Specsavers Wagga Wagga. She studied at Bachelor of Optometry at Deakin University, graduating in 2019. In her second blog, Jacqueline shares her experiences of life in Wagga Wagga and growing her clinical skills. 

It has been just over a year since I’ve started working at Specsavers Wagga. In my first blog shared my thought process leading up to my decision to work regionally. And in this blog, I want to share my experiences of working in Wagga Wagga.

The preparations for the move down to Wagga was quite challenging. Where was I going to
live? Could I afford rent? Do I rent a house, an apartment, or move in with other people? I was quite lucky in this department because soon after I accepted the role, I was able to convince one of my closest friends, Cynthia, to move down with me and work at the Wagga store too!

Starting my next chapter in a new environment with a familiar face, I found the transition and experience easier and enjoyable. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t ever feel homesick. Luckily for me, my roster is highly flexible, which allows me to go home every month back to Sydney to be with family and friends.

Depending on where you locate, there may not be any regular ophthalmologists to make the referrals to. Wagga is a large regional centre, with a base hospital and five practicing ophthalmologists and registrars. My mentors Anne and Richard suggested that it would be good to reach out and introduce myself and to build my working relationships with the local ophthalmologists. As a new grad, there were many occasions where I felt that I was out of my comfort zone. Knowing that I could make a quick phone call, or that I could send my patients to the base hospital, really reassured me and my patient that they were in good hands and were being treated the best way possible.

Working at Wagga is not just a simple 9-to-5 job, appointment after appointment. Before
COVID-19 affected us, we had envisioned and planned for providing better optometric services through community outreach. We have reached out to primary schools, a correctional centre and have been approached by various organisations to provide care and optometric services to the community. We were even waiting for a corneal topographer but all these plans were put on hold due to COVID-19. I look forward to being able to re-introduce some of these as we move into our new COVID-normal.

I have now entered my second year as a grad, and have had my first performance review.
Looking back on where I have started, and what I wanted to achieve, I can see that I have
improved as an optometrist in the past twelve months.

When I started I was on one-hour appointments and only tested six patients a day. I had little confidence in myself for my first kid test; and there were lots of firsts – my first emergency red-eye and even my first retest!

Comparing myself from before to now, I have seen personal growth and a boost in self-confidence and I’m on my way to being the best optometrist I can be, and I am thankful for the depth and breadth of my regional experience!

More in the Specsavers Graduate Program Blog series
Why I went regional – a graduate perspective
Imposter syndrome as a graduate
Time management in a clinical environment
Experiencing regional life during placement
Never a dull moment in regional practice
Supported on a new journey
Moving forward with mentorship
Side by side in the second year
Through the eyes of a graduate optometrist
Three days of professional development
Practising rural optometry with a friend
Venturing into leadership with the Year Two Project

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