Our 'Unconventional Optometrist' column is where we chat to optometrists who are a bit out of the ordinary! Do you know anyone who we should feature? Let us know!
This Young Unconventional Optometrist is both a practice owner AND a locum - talk about juggling roles!
Tell us a little bit about your journey into your field.
After I graduated uni I worked for corporate optometry to build up basic skills. A number of years later I ended up doing locum work and the odd BHVI clinic a few times a year to experience a different variety of practice. I was also limited in what I could do in corporate eyecare, and honestly I got bored do refraction day in and day out. I considered doing medicine at this stage but figured it was not worth the investment. I now own a small practice in partnership and continue to do locum and part time work in conjunction. I basically bought myself a job and didn’t do the numbers properly before I bought in (its nothing I regret though) I work for a behavioural optom once a week, which I never thought I would, and now has definitely changed the way I practice and see optometry as a whole, rather than just VA/refraction.
Tell us about your typical day at work (if 'typical' exists)
Typical optometry hours 9-5. General eye tests, mainly. (this is your bread and butter) Specialty contact lens fits (KC/ scarred cornea/ post graft) Lots of dry eye Myopia control for my kids on the weekend.
What are some benefits to working as both a locum and a practice owner?
Has allowed me to learn different niches of optometry and find what I like best.
What are some differences between what you do and a 'traditional' optometry job?
My job is pretty traditional. I just get more exposure to interesting cases due to the practice location. We have to deal with a lot of politics though including issues with referrals from the public to private sector.
What is the best thing about your job?
Freedom to do what I want for both myself and my patient. Everything you put into your practice eventually goes back to yourself (and your partners). Generally more rewarding, though the same can be said for a good independent or corporate practice. There’s also things that you hate doing, but you’re good at due to the numbers you see. So it’s good in a way for the practice still? Sometimes you’re just put into that positon and end up following that path.
What advice would you give to other optometrists who also wish to locum or own their own practice?
NETWORK, attend conferences , and always be eager to learn. Finding a good mentor who inspires you will help. Nothing beats actual experience, doing something yourself and getting your numbers up to improve your skill. A textbook or talk/seminar can only teach you so much. Its always different once you apply your knowledge in real practice.
What has been one of your most memorable patient encounters?
When your patient goes from 3/60 to 6/9 with an RGP and you change their life.
Is there anything you would like to change or improve about the way you practice?
Lots of things. But everything needs money/ enough budget to achieve. This isn’t always possible so you make do and remember there’s always plenty of time to learn it/or build it later.