Nina de Jesus (L) and Natasha Gibson
By Ashleigh McMillan
Recent graduates Nina de Jesus and Natasha Gibson spoke to Australian Optometry about what attracted them to Specsavers and the salient lessons learned during the induction of 74 new optometry graduates to the group in Melbourne on 20-22 February.
The graduates included 19 optometrists from New Zealand, with attendees receiving training in communication, teamwork and effective clinical routines.
During the induction, graduates met with members of the Specsavers support team including optometry director Peter Larsen, optometry development manager Dr Ben Ashby and optometry development consultant Naomi Barber, as well as optometrist and Optometry Board of Australia member Garry Fitzpatrick. The early career optometrists also attended a cocktail event held at Eureka 89.
A second graduate induction will take place in July after the graduation of the 2017 Deakin University optometry cohort. According to a statement, Specsavers expects about 40 Deakin graduates to join the group.
Nina de Jesus
UNSW optometry graduate Nina de Jesus says the large support system for early career optometrists, including a broad circle of practice mentors, regional managers and fellow practitioners, drew her to work for Specsavers.
‘It’s great knowing I can seek advice or guidance from a wide network of optometrists,’ she said. ‘Due to the sheer volume of patients on a daily basis, I am exposed to a variety of cases within one day and therefore I am challenged to continually improve myself as an optometrist.’
Nina is employed at Specsavers Tuggerah on the NSW Central Coast. She said the three-day induction included useful workshops and presentations which improved her readiness for work.
‘I learned how to improve my interpersonal skills with the patient, whether it is by becoming more aware of my body language or tailoring my approach for different personalities. I also learned a few practical tips when prescribing spectacles and contact lenses for patients.
‘As a graduate optometrist, I had several fears on entering the workforce. What if I diagnose a patient incorrectly? What if I manage them incorrectly? What if I miss something? While I understood it was likely other graduates would share the same fears, it was strangely reassuring to see at the induction how common these fears were among my peers.
‘It meant that I was not alone, that these fears were natural. It was also reassuring to have these fears acknowledged by experienced optometrists and leaders in the company. The orientation also provided us with reassurance about our readiness to apply our therapeutic knowledge in both clinical assessment and management,’ she said.
University of Melbourne graduate Natasha Gibson says the induction gave her important insight into how to practise ‘smarter’ optometry in her role at Specsavers Ballarat.
‘I learned about utilising the broader spectrum of Medicare codes and its importance to the profession’ Natasha said. ‘I also learned about providing better patient care by using better product knowledge, and optometric knowledge through a great therapeutics and glaucoma detection refresher course.
Natasha says that her concerns about the 20-minute eye examinations were dispelled at the induction.
‘Having the pre-test done prior to the exam, including autorefraction, vertometry, IOPs and fundus photography gives a good starting point in the consulting room. It was also emphasised that we are not limited to 20 minutes per patient, and that patients requiring more attention will always have more time with the optometrist,’ she said.
A favourite part of the induction for Natasha was a segment on personality profiling, which gave her awareness of how she works within a team and deals with conflict. ‘I learned that sometimes it might be necessary to adapt my own behaviour to relate to someone else to effectively resolve issues when conflicts arise.
‘Most importantly, as a new graduate who has decided to relocate and experience something different, I found great support through meeting many new faces who could relate to what it has been like to relocate. It was comforting to know I wasn’t the only one experiencing it, and it made me feel more confident in my choice.
‘Looking ahead, one day I hope to join the Specsavers Pathway program in which I can develop my knowledge of the business to ultimately become an optometry partner as well,’ Natasha said.
New optometrists at the Specsavers induction course