What goes into the making of a successful Doctor of Optometry?
You spend years, one after the other, studying tirelessly day in and day out to score well on your board exams. You finally manage to get your your degree and the practice license.
With so much education and preparation you feel ready to jump head-on into the field. Whether you are looking for a job, or rather prefer to be your own boss and are planning to start your own corporate or private practice instead, your past experiences and academic achievements should give you a feeling of self-sufficiency to launch your career in optometry.
But while you may have excelled in your student life, as a fresh, inexperienced OD, you are still unaware of the world of practical optometry. And if you want to find your way through the maze of glasses and optical lenses, you are definitely going to need some assistance from your seniors.
After all, there is no doubt that the greatest form of education in the world is to watch masters at work.
Why do you need a mentor in optometry?
Since they have been working in the field for many years, not only are these senior practitioners more familiar with the norms, but they also have a great experience and valuable insight into the challenges that may arise at work and how best to deal with them.
It is simply absurd to think that you can become a successful optometrist overnight. Those top optometrists you see in the industry too once stood where you are at the moment, and gradually built their way up.
You should seek their advice on how to handle tough practice situations, which may include for instance operating the equipment properly and troubleshooting any issues that may arise with them, catering to a large influx of patients during peak hours or how to deal with tough clients and so on.
Moreover, by working under a mentor, you will also get to add another person (and possibly more in the future) to your professional network. This can prove to be beneficial in the long run. Engage in healthy discussions about the latest trends in technology and new, better methods of treatment and this way, your mentor can learn from you too.
How to find a mentor?
Look out for professionals working in your field. Talk to them over the phone or correspond via email and then schedule a visit to meet them in-person. See if you both will be willing to work with each other and discuss any queries you might have.
Before making the final judgment, you must focus on some important factors. For instance, is your potential mentor really interested in his line of work? Is he willing to help you and exhibit patience during your journey together? Are you both able to communicate clearly and effectively? And do their work practices align with your own career interests or not?
Once you are satisfied you may discuss work requirements with your mentor. Like your work timings, work days and other formalities.
Set clear expectations and evaluate your progress together regularly to ensure you both get the best results from this mentorship.
While books and theoretical knowledge help you build the basics and a strong foundation, there is, however, no replacement for the knowledge, confidence, and intuition that one gains from on-the-job experience.
Mentors help guide the younger ODs to the future success of our profession in optometry!