Young optometrists are drawing on the expertise of ProVision and tapping into its Associate Membership program for advice on how to further their careers and embark on practice management.
ProVision currently has 66 Associate Members on its books – young optometrists who are provided free access to mentoring and business management advice until they eventually become practice owners, at which point they can choose to take up full ProVision membership.
They’ve given us the confidence to adapt and make changes as we take our business on this incredibly exciting journey
Emma Kemp, a graduate of five years who has had broad experience in corporate and independent optometry as well as working as a locum, recently turned to ProVision to help find full-time work.
“I’d been working as a locum for two years and I wanted to get into an independent practice where I could build on my skills in orthokeratology and paediatric vision. A friend recommended I call Kelvin Bartholomeusz, (a NSW Business Coach with ProVision). I took the train from the Central Coast to meet him in Sydney and I was only half an hour into my return journey when he called to tell me he’d found me a job.” Ms Kemp’s new role was with Central Coast Eyecare, a practice five minutes from where she lives.
“I’d been admiring Central Coast Eyecare from a distance for a few years and the practice owners knew of me because I’d worked in the area. It’s been a fantastic move. We have two practices, and we see just about every keratoconic on the Central Coast, so it’s really giving me the opportunity to refine the areas of expertise I’m most interested in. This will be useful in years to come when it’s time to own my own practice.”
Ebru Efem and Alisha Shastri, two optometrists who studied together at Deakin University, have just opened a greenfields practice in Greenvale, north of the Melbourne Central Business District.
While opening a greenfield practice is often seen as higher risk than purchasing an established business, Mr Bartholomeusz said young optometrists who want to become practice owners are increasingly interested in pursuing this opportunity.
“Future practice owners are identifying opportunities in areas that have gentrified or are experiencing a growth in population that don’t have an independent currently servicing the community,” he said.
“With high demand in certain cities for practices, demand often outweighs supply. I have about six groups of people I am assisting at the moment, looking to buy in.”
Between Ms Efem and Ms Shastri, there is a wealth of clinical experience in corporate and independent optometry, however they admit that prior to establishing a practice, they had no business experience. They said the guidance they received from ProVision’s Associate Membership program was instrumental in gaining confidence to get their practice off the ground.
“We both had a dream of owning our own practice, of being in full control of clinical decisions and supporting the community with eye care expertise. We’d seen the positives and negatives in how other practices were run, so we knew how we wanted to shape ours, but we weren’t confident about the operational aspects,” said Ms Efem. “I had worked in ProVision practices and seen how they helped and supported different practices, so I suggested we contact them.”
The business partners began accessing Provision’s Associate Membership program during the initial stages of their planning.
“The collaborative environment they offered was something we were really drawn to – the frame and lens suppliers, finance services and website developers were all onboard to help,” Ms Shastri said. “They’ve been incredibly helpful – they’ve held our hands right through the journey.”
A ProVision business coach, who has offered them advice on financials, accounting, and leasing premises etc., also provided an in-depth demographic profile of their local area.
“That advice alone effectively helped us from both a business and clinical perspective as it informed us of the equipment we’d need to service our community, as well as the most appropriate frames, lenses, communication strategies etc.,” Ms Efem said.
But the main thing they’ve taken from their Associate Membership is confidence in their abilities to succeed.
“In the end, we can do as much planning as we like, but what we’ve learnt from people at ProVision is that it’s OK to make mistakes – as long as we maintain an open mind to change. They’ve given us the confidence to adapt and make changes as we take our business on this incredibly exciting journey.”