Yvonne Koh, graduate optometrist at Specsavers Frankston and Frankston Bayside in Victoria and author of the Specsavers Clinical Placement Blog, returns for a final guest blog to discuss her entry into optometry, as well as her experience at the second 2018 Specsavers Graduation Induction.

While I was a student at university, I would always dream of the day I would begin working full-time, but when the day actually came, I felt a bit anxious, not 100% sure what to expect.

I was initially nervous about starting work, but after seeing my first few patients, I felt more comfortable and began to feel a genuine love for optometry. The clinical placement I completed with Specsavers while studying at Deakin University prepared me well for full-time work – both mentally and clinically.

The first steps in your optometry career are the most critical to your success, and while it is important to hit the ground running, it is also important to go at a pace that you are comfortable with to allow for growth and development. The Specsavers Graduate Program provides new graduates with invaluable advice and support through mentorship and professional development.

The Graduate Induction formed the first part of our professional development and took place over two days, covering a broad range of topics, including Specsavers’ values, vision and experience, professional communication, therapeutics, Medicare billing, as well as a number of specific optometry areas. It was also really great to be able to catch up with all my colleagues again and see how far we had all come.

I have now attended a number of Specsavers events and always feel that I could not have chosen a better organisation with which to start my optometry career, especially after hearing about how together we are transforming eye health across Australia and New Zealand.

Specsavers is always working to improve and support their people as well as taking initiatives to enhance patient outcomes and provide exceptional eye care, such as investing in OCT. This is all done to provide better quality of life through improving detection rates and, thus, the management of conditions such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Currently, 50% of glaucoma in Australia goes undiagnosed, and OCT has been brought in to improve detection and patient outcomes for all Australians at no extra cost.

I have found that contact lenses and binocular vision, especially in kids, are common areas of concern for graduates. The induction addressed these areas and have helped me to more confidently dispense contact lenses and perform eye tests on children. We were taught that we shouldn’t simply perform tests and spot diagnose; instead we should be looking at each patient and all the information holistically. Start by picking out what seems abnormal and then piece it together from there. This aids learning through understanding and also leads to more accurate and efficient diagnosis and management.

The discussion on problem solving and rechecks was invaluable as learning how to prescribe effectively and appropriately both increases our confidence and enhances the patient experience. I have found that best practice and theoretical methods of refraction may sometimes need to be altered and adjusted to satisfy each patient’s individual lifestyle and vision requirements. It is also important to understand that each individual patient will need to adapt to change, like anything in life, the same way they will have adapt to glasses. If a prescription is modified to help with patient comfort and wear, it is important to explain that to the patient and coach them to set them up for success.

Wrapping up my blog, I leave you with a phrase from one of the last speakers at the induction: “If you aim for the moon, you may leave the atmosphere, but if you aim for Mars, you will surely reach the moon.”

We as graduates should not be afraid to dream big as it is only just the beginning of the journey and where it takes us depends on our own hopes and goals. Personally, I cannot wait to see what the future holds and where it will take me.

More in the Specsavers Graduate Program Blog series
Supported on a new journey
Moving forward with mentorship
Side by side in the second year
Through the eyes of a graduate optometrist
The benefits of ‘going regional’
Graduate Induction – the first steps
Three days of professional development
Practising rural optometry with a friend
Venturing into leadership with the Year Two Project