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HomemiprofessionWhat’s Not to Love: The Wonders of Optometry

What’s Not to Love: The Wonders of Optometry

Working in a regional practice has allowed Lauren O’Kane to gain broad experience in clinical and practice management.

I have never considered what I do as something extraordinary. I spend my days interacting with the local community of the Upper Hunter Valley in NSW and, in doing so, hope to make their lives a little better or easier, simply by improving their vision.

When I accepted a job at Aaron Henry Optometry in Muswellbrook NSW in 2016, I had no idea of how long I’d be there. I soon discovered that I’d been fortunate to find a role in an independent practice that allows me to be the best version of myself, and to grow not only as an optometrist, but as a person. Three years on, I can’t imagine working anywhere other than in this small community, approximately three hours north west of Sydney, in predominantly mining and farming country.

It’s my hope that in doing so, many more young optometrists like me will find a position where their individual talents and passions can be nurtured

When compared to many of my colleagues and friends, my role as an optometrist in a regional town is very different. While I often have a full book of eye examinations, I am also very involved with optical dispensing, front of house operations and business decision making.

Every day is very different thanks to the great variety of people and problems that come through the doors. I have removed my fair share of metallic foreign bodies and have honed my therapeutic skills managing acute and chronic ocular conditions. On the flip side, I spend most afternoons seeing numerous school children who may need my help. Having never really grown up myself, there’s nothing I love more than discussing my favourite movie, or playing games with the kids.

Another aspect of my role is stock and inventory management, a task that takes several hours each week and involves regular appointments with frame reps. Seeing the latest fashion and keeping our displays up to date allows me to use my creativity and keeps me on my toes – every time I think I have a good understanding of what’s going to sell, trends change and we start all over again. My colleagues will tell you that it’s not uncommon to find me staring at our frame displays then rearranging them. The effect of doing so is amazing – small changes to displays can definitely draw attention to different frames and drive sales.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job has been the opportunity to contribute to decision making and influence change. Despite having been in the profession for such a short time, I am fortunate to be part of a team that is willing to listen to new ideas and consider them seriously. A key example of this was two years ago when Aaron Henry Optometry made the decision to move from the local shopping centre to a larger store on the main street. Even though I’d only been with the practice for 12 months, my opinion was met with great sincerity by the business owners and other staff members. We all agreed on our strategy, implemented the move with great cooperation, and I can honestly say, we have never looked back.

My professional role continues to evolve, not only within Aaron Henry Optometry but also within the broader ProVision community. By interacting with, and working alongside ProVision, I am able to share my positive experiences in the hopes of inspiring future optometry graduates to see the many benefits of independent optometry. It’s my hope that in doing so, many more young optometrists like me will find a position where their individual talents and passions can be nurtured.

I’m not sure that I am an exceptional optometrist, but I know I found a position that has allowed me to flourish. My role as an optometrist within the business is continuously expanding and I am constantly learning new things. But best of all, I find myself smiling every day. Patients repeatedly say to me, “You really enjoy what you do, don’t you?”. To which I can only agree.

Lauren O’Kane graduated from Deakin University in June 2016 and practices at Aaron Henry Optometry in Muswellbrook NSW.