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HomeminewsNew Optom Graduates Need Nurturing: OV/SA

New Optom Graduates Need Nurturing: OV/SA

Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/SA) has launched a program to encourage and support new optometry graduates embarking on their professional journey.

OV/SA Chief Executive Officer Ilsa Hampton said the series of engagements with members will centre on the needs of, and challenges faced by, recent graduates.

“I am excited about this work because supporting new optometry graduates is not merely an option; it is an ethical imperative we embrace wholeheartedly as an association,” Ms Hampton said.

“The critical need for supervision and support during this early stage of their careers cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts their confidence, growth, job satisfaction and, ultimately, the quality of care they provide to their patients.

“The transition from student to fully fledged optometrist is both exciting and daunting. During this pivotal phase, many new graduates may experience feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty, leading them to hesitate when seeking guidance from their peers or employers.”

But she said it was important that every new optometrist had a mentor or confidant.

Clearer Communication

“It has come to our attention in recent months that we need to be clearer with our newer members that we understand every stage of their development as health professionals, and that there is no shame in feeling overwhelmed or afraid when you are first starting out,” Ms Hampton said.

Ms Hampton said the Early Career Optometry (ECO) Victoria South Australia Committee advises OV/SA on concerns and areas of importance to optometrists at this stage of their career.

“We have also specifically curated an ECOV/SA CPD events calendar that offers our ECOs a safe space among peers to develop professionally.”

“We have resolved to communicate more with our new members about what to expect in those first months of practice, and to encourage open communication about their challenges. They may not realise the benefit of the mentorship programs we provide that pair experienced optometrists with recent graduates, allowing for a constructive exchange of knowledge and experience.”

She said new optometrists in regional areas faced additional challenges. “For these optometrists, we created the Regional Peer Mentoring Program that allows ECOs in the area to discuss unique clinical challenges and build their local social network.”

She said OV/SA also wanted to encourage employer or management-level members to check in and ensure they do what they can to be cognisant of how their new graduates are going, by regularly reflecting on their supervision and support needs.

“Employers should evaluate whether their support systems in place are sufficient and effective in addressing the needs of their young optometrists. This process of introspection allows for the identification of gaps in supervision, potential training needs and opportunities for mentorship or professional development.”