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!
Here's this month's Unconventional Optometrist. Sarah Pham is an optometrist who works in metro Sydney and has pursued a side career in Events Planning. Read on for her thoughts on how to keep interested in Optometry and how to follow your passions.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Sarah Le Pham, 2016 UNSW School of Optometry graduate. I predominantly work a mixture of corporate, mobile and independent practices based in Sydney metro.
Since graduation, I’ve been actively involved with the excellent and devoted Young Optometrists (YO) as an executive for 2 years prior to help bridge the gap between the generations of optometrists which has been very rewarding.
At the same time, I’ve looked into various specialties and discovered that all of them were interesting in their own right. OrthoK and myopia control particularly tickled my fancy! I’ve tried to go further and look at different demographics as the care and management require different finesse.
In terms of who I am, words that are commonly used to describe me are compassionate, curious and enthusiastic. I’m constantly on a journey to try different things and have the most fulfilling experiences in life!
Tell us about your typical week at work
Every week has been very different hence there’s no such thing as a typical week for me. This is quite refreshing for me personally however I do understand it may not work for everyone!
In my circumstance, my work is deliberately irregular to give myself an opportunity to explore my other interests (more below).
How do you keep up with the optometry world?
The advantage of optometry being a niche community is that it is not too difficult to keep up. There are CPD events, articles published online and groups (YO, OA etc) that promote discussion.
Being the nerds we all are, even just a regular catch up with the friends you’ve made during university (who have now become your colleagues), talk about developments in optometry come up!
Do you have any goals for your optometry career?
Optometry is constantly changing and consequently, I want to constantly focus on improving my skills and overall care for my patients. My goal is to be a better optometrist than yesterday!
What keeps you sane outside of your work life? Do you have any hobbies or passions you pursue?
Keeping up with my attitude to trying different experiences, I’ve actually looked into various jobs and hobbies outside optometry. As much as I like optometry, I would not stay sane if every breathing second was about optometry!
I’ve pursued a side career in Event planning. Nothing as extravagant as weddings, but I’ve delved into parties and smaller scale events! (Birthdays, hen’s night etc). This is ongoing as there are always projects for me to get in touch with my artsy and creative side where the precise and logical optometry career path may not allow!
For a busy practice, one might find that they spend the entire day sitting in the consultation room (can’t be helped!) but it does not contribute to us achieving our active needs. Hence, I’ve involved myself in playing a team sport (Volleyball) in my free time which has evolved into a passion allowing me to eventually be appointed Captain of the newest and developing rep team.
What advice would you give to other optometrists who also wish to pursue something a little out of the ordinary?
You’ll never really know if you like something or not unless you put yourself out there and try it!
It's easy to get stuck in the bubble of Optometry. What's something that you wish people knew about the industry you work in now?
Yes, it is important to grow as a practitioner and deliver your best care but I personally think it’s equally important to mix things up so that you don’t get burnt out!
As rewarding as Optometry is, I find that there are some aspects that the career simply cannot offer. To really pursue a fulfilling and balanced lifestyle, it’s a good idea to look into things outside of Optometry.