Never a dull moment in regional practice

16 September 2020

Ishita (Ish) Srivastava graduated from a Flinders University with a Masters in Optometry before moving to Mount Gambier in South Australia to start her career as an optometrist. In this blog, she shares her experience of regional life and the breadth of clinical experience it offers.

Moving to work in a regional community is one of the best decisions I have made! Having previously completed my rural placement at Specsavers Kadina, I got to experience the fast-paced environment and variety of pathology present in a regional practice. This was more than I had seen on some of my metro placements and helped define my decision in choosing Mount Gambier for my first professional role.

Moving away from home for the first time was a big decision. While I had my doubts, talking to the graduate recruitment team made me realize the amount of support that is provided to you as a new graduate. Specsavers made the experience of moving very easy. The relocation allowance helped me transport my car, which was essential. The biggest challenge was looking for accommodation, which was proving to be difficult as I was unable to come and inspect properties. I received a great amount of help from the store partners and my mentor Erica, who was happy to inspect a few properties and guided me throughout the whole process of finding the right area to live in.

Upon starting instore, I realised how tiring the work can get! It is a big transition from university to work-life as my diary is always fully booked and any spare time I get is spent writing reports or referrals. This was quite a mental challenge and a big hurdle to overcome initially, but it does get better over time, especially as you get used to seeing more patients. With three full-time optometrists and multiple dispensers, Mount Gambier is busy store. Despite this, the partners run store processes smoothly and the nature of the clinic during busy hours helps when one is running behind. Mount Gambier has a diverse demographic. I see a large variety of patients all the way from toddlers to people over 90 which has improved both my problem solving and decision-making skills.

We are fortunate enough to have three local ophthalmologists and the relationships between them and the local optometrists are very positive and well established. This makes referring easier, and receiving reports from the ophthalmologists makes patient follow up very convenient. I have also had the opportunity to spend a day with the local ophthalmologist, getting to know them better, and understanding their working style. I loved this experience as I got to see SLT, anti-VEGF injections, and even an ectropion surgery!

The town of Mount Gambier is a great balance between city and rural life. Being a bigger regional town, there are some great places to eat and be entertained! Initially, it can be hard to interact with other people, but I found joining social and sporting clubs a great way to meet others. Another positive is that with Mount Gambier being only five hours away from Adelaide, it’s never away from home!

I am enjoying being part of a spectacular team and can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for me!

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 your placement
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