By Demi Aitchison
I became an optometrist because it was a career that would allow me to return home to the country one day and provide a valuable service to the community.
I have been working in a private ophthalmology practice in Adelaide for the 15 months since I graduated from Flinders University in 2015. The practice staff consists of one ophthalmologist, who is the owner of the practice, and me. He is an anterior segment and glaucoma specialist but we also do some general ophthalmology.
I was attracted to the job because there is a strong emphasis on the medical side of optometry, where many opportunities arise to use my therapeutics endorsement. I was excited to experience the vast array of pathology, in particular the corneal pathology that we see very often, and work with a transplant surgeon. That keeps the job very interesting.
We are fortunate to work in a profession that allows many opportunities to provide great outcomes and experience fulfilling moments. Early in my optometry career, a lovely gentleman gave me his sincere thanks for saving his eye after he developed a blebitis while the ophthalmologist I work with was away. It was only after treatment, when he mentioned that I had saved his sight that the gravity of my work hit home.
I hope to continue to practise within the ophthalmology setting, in particular targeting the public system to perhaps develop a comanagement clinic to ease the burden of the overflowing public ophthalmology system.
My desire to learn from textbooks, patient journeys or my mentors sustains my motivation to stay in the profession of optometry. The patients drive my motivation. I enjoy building relationships, helping someone even when things are not so favourable and seeing the great outcomes of quality clinical care.
The main lesson I've learned during my career is that patients often won’t remember much of the information or evidence from studies you bombard them with to explain their treatment, but they will remember that you made them feel important and cared for.
My motto is: take opportunities as they arise and find a great mentor who has been practising for a while to learn from their wisdom. At the same time, develop patient rapport and the rest will fall into place because for patients, trust in their practitioner is everything.