The hidden perks of mentoring a graduate optometrist

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Mentorship is the backbone of the two-year Specsavers Graduate Program, ensuring early-career optometrists have constant, in-store access to optometric knowledge, clinical experience and professional support to help them develop into skilled, confident clinicians. Mentors are an invaluable resource for Specsavers’ graduate optometrists – however, what might not be so well known is the value that graduates hold for their mentors. Here, store optometry partners reveal why they enjoy guiding the next generation of optometrists through their first years of practice.

Michael Peter, Specsavers Horsham, VIC

I employed my first graduate in August 2016 and have since employed two more. In that time, I have probably learned about as much from them as they have from me.

What I enjoy most about being a mentor is the shared learning. Working alongside my graduates has renewed my passion for optometry and has helped to develop the learning environment between our optometrists and the rest of our team. Graduates are very hungry to learn, and having a constant attitude of learning has resulted in a very high level of clinical skill in our practice.

While being a mentor takes a bit more of your time every day, the rewards are huge. As a mentor, I have grown not only my management skills, but also my clinical skills. Employing a graduate will challenge you to stay on top of your game, which can be extremely rewarding.

Mark Bonham, Specsavers Midland Gate, WA

Helping new graduates become more competent optometrists is very fulfilling. I have been involved in the Specsavers Graduate Program for the past six years, and I really enjoy the teaching aspect of being a mentor. New graduates come out of university full of technical knowledge, but they don’t always have the practical skills to apply it in-store.

Being a WA-based practice, all of our graduates have been sourced from interstate. I’ve had to change my mentoring style over the years to make sure that I’m not only providing support from an optometric viewpoint, but also to help the graduates adapt to the change in lifestyle.

My graduates push me to stay abreast of new developments in our profession and prevent me from becoming stagnant in my way of thinking and practising. By contributing these different ideas and ways of thinking to the team, they help reinvigorate practises that may otherwise have become stale. They also help increase my practice’s testing capacity, which allows us to provide eye care to more patients.

Angat Bhumbra, Specsavers Penrith, NSW

I became a Specsavers Optometry Director in November 2016 and immediately got involved in the Graduate Program.

When graduates come out of university, they have all the skills and knowledge needed to perform a comprehensive eye test, however, they are often nervous about carrying out their first few tests and making correct diagnoses. As a mentor, I enjoy being able to calm their nerves, build their confidence, and work with them to improve their clinical efficiency.

I have always believed in having an open-door policy – even during the busiest times of the year – to provide my graduates with the assurance that there is always a second opinion available if ever they get stuck. I believe the key to successful mentorship is making time for regular one-on-ones to ensure proper communication.

The graduates have positively added to our team’s work culture as their positive energy and willingness to learn are infectious. The graduates are also prepared to come out of their testing rooms and help the retail staff when it’s busy or just to have a chat, which helps breaks down role silos and gives the store a feeling of being one team.

To anyone considering becoming a graduate mentor – go for it! Initially, you will need to manage your time between testing and mentoring, however, over time, as the graduates gain experience, they will bring a great deal of knowledge, skills and character to your team.

For more information about the Specsavers Graduate Program, email anz.professionaldevelopment@specsavers.com

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