First-year graduate optometrists recently regrouped for the second touchpoint in the Specsavers Graduate Program, the Graduate Mentor and Mentee Workshop, where they shared their achievements and challenges with their peers, plotted out their future development with their mentors, and gained insight into their preferred working styles.

Six one-day Graduate Mentor and Mentee Workshops took place from 1 to 17 April across Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Auckland, Melbourne and Perth. In total, the events were attended by more than 240 people, almost half of whom were graduate optometrists. The other half comprised the graduates’ mentors (typically, their store partner) and other key supporting stakeholders.

Adam Buxton, Head of Graduate Recruitment and Development, said, “We know that the relationship between the graduates and their mentors is crucial to their ongoing development over the course of the Specsavers Graduate Program. We therefore hold this workshop to help the attendees focus on what they should be doing as a graduate or a mentor to help foster a positive and developmental relationship.”

Graduate and mentor forums
Facilitated by Professional Development Manager Tina Adel and Graduate Optometry Development Manager Sophie Stephan, the Graduate Mentor and Mentee Workshop involved two separate forums – one for graduates and one for mentors – as well as a final plenary session for all attendees.

The workshop represented the first time the graduates had met since their induction in February 2019, and after two more months in clinical practice, they had much to share and discuss with one another. Guided by the Specsavers Graduate team, the graduates spoke about what had gone well for them as well as the challenges they had faced. Importantly, the forum allowed the group to workshop different approaches to common challenges, allowing the graduates to learn from, and be supported by, others who had shared a similar experience.

The graduate forum concluded with a self-assessment designed to help each graduate recognise the progress they had made so far, understand where they wanted to be in future, and identify what they would need to focus on in the coming three months in order to reach that goal.

The simultaneously held mentor forum involved an examination of mentor and graduate feedback that had been provided to the Specsavers Graduate team prior to the workshop. Discussions centred around the elements of the program that the graduates had reported as having the greatest impact on their development, as well as what the mentors could do to perpetuate and further build upon these elements. This was followed up by a workshop on how best to achieve this through utilisation of the situational leadership model.

Reflecting on the mentorship
The final segment of the Graduate Mentor and Mentee Workshop saw all attendees come together for a joint forum where, within their graduate-mentor groupings, they reviewed the results of the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) that they had each completed before the event. Using the DISC behaviour assessment tool, the PPA provided both parties with insight into their preferred ways of working as individuals. This information was then used to guide a discussion on how the graduates and mentors could better communicate and work together going forward. The final part of the forum focussed on creating a tailored development plan for each graduate for the next three months, utilising the information and learnings gained from the earlier sessions.

“This workshop provides both the mentors and graduates with the opportunity to reflect on their own personality styles and how they interact with each other,” Adam commented. “It’s also a chance to have a great conversation about the graduate’s strengths and professional interests, and to plan their development over coming months.”

CPD evening
An additional, optional ‘Grand Rounds’ CPD event was held in the evenings following the Graduate Mentor and Mentee Workshops, during which three graduates at each event shared and discussed an interesting case with their peers.

Phyllida Murray from Specsavers Strathpine in Queensland presented a case at the Brisbane event. Describing the experience, Phyllida said, “I really appreciated being asked to prepare a case study for the Grand Rounds event, as it was a great opportunity to increase my knowledge and investigate any recent advancements in the industry. Presenting the case study was also a great learning experience, as it exposed both myself and other colleagues to different ways of managing the same case.”

As an attendee at the Grand Rounds event in Melbourne, Jenna Truong from Specsavers Highpoint in Victoria agreed that the night presented some excellent learning opportunities. “The CPD evening gave valuable insight into how my fellow graduates have managed interesting cases,” she said. “This has really helped to highlight areas of practice where I could benefit from further development.”

The next touchpoint for the first-year graduates will be the Professional Development Day in September 2019.

Learn more about the Graduate Mentor and Mentee Workshop through the Specsavers Graduate Blog.

The Brisbane Grand Rounds CPD evening