A recent optometry graduate from Ayr in North Queensland shines a light on her new role in the industry, revealing her inspiration for commencing a career in optometry. Her refreshing perspective serves as a reminder of the invaluable work optometrists provide the community.
With the graduation of the latest batch of wide-eyed high school students and the impending start of yet another new university year, the topic of conversation for many students inevitably turns to career choices. While the choices may be varied, often the resources and time to assist with decision-making are limited.
Few, if any, choices in life have as much impact on our lives as our career choice. I remember only too well the anxiety and consternation of my own career choice.
Four years ago when I was agonising over the choice between medicine, optometry and law, a family friend said, “There are any number of ways to make a living, but you should choose a career that allows you to make a life.”
This remark was the catalyst for me choosing a career in optometry and I could not be happier with my choice. Optometry is truly unique in its combination of the challenge and stimulation of science, the satisfaction of personal interaction with patients and the flexibility that allows for a fulfilling personal and family life.
I have always wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives. For me, optometry clearly provides this opportunity. The chance to make a difference, to make a living and to make a life – to me, the choice was simple.
A Unique Career
After four long years of intensive education and clinical practice – at times a little too challenging – my peers and I have graduated and commenced our careers as optometrists.
Of course, I now know much more about optometry than when I first chose this career path. To be honest, I am even more convinced that optometry is an opportunity for life.
Our patients are real people with real problems. Their vision is important to them and it is important to me. Longterm relationships with a wide range of patients, with a variety of ocular issues, ensure each day is interesting, challenging and fulfilling.
As primary eye care practitioners we are often the first to detect serious conditions such as diabetes and hypertension and are directly involved in the health care of our patients. Optometry boasts a variety of specialty areas including contact lenses and children’s vision, allowing optometrists the opportunity to focus on specific areas of practice if they wish.
One of my father’s self-coined, favourite clichés that he often reassured my endless study with was: “the biggest obstacle to learning anything is knowing everything.”
While I sometimes tire of my father’s irritating truisms, I admit he has a point. Despite the years of hard work, long nights of study and hours of honing clinical skills, we can’t know it all.
I’m looking forward to this next phase of my optometric career. In January this year I started my professional career with Eyes on Edward in Brisbane’s CBD and am enjoying my position. Working in a team of experienced optometrists, optical dispensers, and sales staff has provided me with invaluable experience and professional development.
The inclusive nature of our industry really appeals to me. We work in a tight-knit and supportive environment where colleagues are enthusiastic and generous with assistance, advice and guidance.
The Road Ahead
As graduates we still have a long road ahead and many lessons to learn, most of which can only be learnt from practical experience, with the assistance of unfortunate, yet inevitable errors. While no-one likes to make errors, we are no longer in a position where the answers can be found in Kanski or with a quick pub-med search.
I anticipate that the next twelve months will be both interesting and illuminating. In addition to gaining extensive clinical experience, each of us will obtain valuable knowledge about practice management and how to effectively and efficiently run a practice.
Many of us will also continue our formal tertiary education with CPD programs and postgraduate study such as the Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics, which I personally hope to commence this year.
As a student observer with the OAA QLD/NT council for the past two years, I witnessed first-hand the struggle for Queensland practicing optometrists to attain professional parity with our interstate counterparts in the area of ocular drug prescribing rights.
Despite this current impediment to delivering the highest ocular care possible to our patients, I believe we are entering optometry at an exciting time where the scope of our profession has increased to embrace a holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment.
I’m excited about the future of optometry and my future in it. Ours is a vibrant and progressive profession, in a constant state of evolution. It is professionally stimulating, intellectually challenging and emotionally satisfying. Optometry really is an opportunity for life.
Kady Brandon is an optometrist at Eyes on Edward in Brisbane. She graduated from QUT Optometry in 2008 and is currently an observer on the OAA QLD/NT Council.