Specsavers Graduate Program: Moving forward with mentorship

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Louise Winkler and Tyson Xu

A one-day Mentor Mentee Workshop was held in multiple locations across Australia and New Zealand from 9 to 18 April 2018. The event, which is for graduate optometrists in their first year of the Specsavers Graduate Program and their mentors, aims to strengthen the mentor relationship and ensure the graduate is getting the most out of their Graduate Program journey. This month, we feature two Specsavers Graduate Program bloggers – graduate optometrist Tyson Xu from Specsavers Nowra Stockland in New South Wales, and his mentor and store partner Louise Winkler – who each provide their individual perspectives on the event.

Tyson Xu: Two months in the Graduate Program journey as an early-career optometrist have passed by so quickly yet slowly at the same time. As in any learning journey, there have been moments when I’ve rejoiced from having a ‘good day’, and instances where time seems to stand still due to ‘bad’ ones. However, bad days don’t make it a bad job, and good days don’t make it a good job. Regardless of the ups and downs of this rollercoaster of a journey, every day I’m moving in the most important direction – forward.

Earlier this month, my mentor Louise and I attended the NSW / ACT Mentor and Mentee Workshop, which marked the second calendar event of the Specsavers Graduate Program. The theme to me was all about moving forward, and how to grow both as a clinician and as a professional.

Louise Winkler and Tyson Xu

One of the highlights was the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), which was an innovative and exciting way for both of us to communicate to each other our work styles, motivators and values. Louise’s profile reflected that of a motivating leader whilst mine resembled a more systematic and stable team figure. The PPA also opened avenues of advice for how best to effectively communicate with different styles, as well as how to self-reflect and further develop my own profile – tools that I can transfer to the clinic and beyond to life in general.

Self-reflection was a key element of the day, and the ‘Quarterly Development Meeting’ with Louise allowed me to evaluate my comprehension of all aspects of optometry, and collaborate with her to find solutions to help me provide the best patient care possible. Furthermore, discussions with fellow graduates about how to shift the fears and concerns we had at induction earlier in the year were both reassuring and motivating.

Here’s to moving forward.

Louise Winkler: For me, the Mentor Mentee Workshop reinforced the value of ‘protected time’ – time set aside and dedicated to the mentorship of my graduate optometrist. Throughout the afternoon, I was given the tools to make our protected time more productive, including Protected Time Templates, which are designed to simplify our one-to-one discussions and aid in more constructive meetings.

We discussed the expectations the mentees have from their mentors and vice versa, while also gaining insight into the graduates’ biggest fears. This highlighted the support my new optometrist expects and deserves from me.

The PPA shed light on how my personality profile differed from Tyson’s. It indicated his management style, what motivates him, how he deals with stressful situations, and his communication style. Understanding this means I can now adapt my feedback and communication with Tyson to reflect his personality and provide more effective mentorship.

We also worked through the ‘Quarterly Development Meeting’ form, a useful questionnaire that indicated areas where Tyson was competent and where he needed more support. This provided an opportunity for me to share my knowledge and experience with him, while also highlighting areas where I could provide additional guidance. We will complete the form together each quarter to monitor Tyson’s progress and ensure his development is continually moving forward.

Beyond its educational value, the workshop was a great chance to network, and for the mentees to share their experience with their peers. It was also a reminder of the value that the graduate optometrists add to our practice, and the significance they have in our team.

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

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