We caught up with Mary, an Optometrist based at our new state of the art Belfast clinic, who has worked with Optical Express for over 10 years, to find out what her career journey has been like.
Like many optometrists, when Mary first joined Optical Express she had never had any previous refractive optometry experience. Thanks to Optical Express’s culture for learning and development, Mary enjoyed the initial learning curve when she joined the Optical Express team and soon began thriving in her role as a Specialist Refractive Optometrist. Through the continued support and training provided, Mary advanced in the world of refractive optometry and has since progressed to a more senior role of Senior Refractive Optometrist.
Within this role, Mary is confident in sharing her knowledge and skills by training colleagues and helping them to expand their own skillset in refractive optometry. The training that Mary is involved in provides optometrists the opportunity to shadow more experienced colleagues, allowing them to gain a better understanding of what is involved in refractive optometry during testing times. In addition, their academic knowledge is also further advanced through a series of online training courses. All of this training is then put into practice when the optometrists are given the opportunity to start seeing their own patients, however Mary is always on hand to lend support and offer advice whenever it is required.
When asked what has kept her with the Optical Express team for the past 10 years, Mary explained that the company’s flexible working approach as well as the ability to truly transform patients’ lives provided her with unrivalled job satisfaction, commenting, “It is a challenging environment but that is the kind of environment I do like to work in, I find the work really interesting.” Being able to follow the patients journey from start to finish and seeing them gain visual freedom is a part of the role that Mary truly takes pride in. With having a young family, a good work life balance is also a priority for Mary, which is something she has also been able to achieve in her role.
Through the introduction of the Independent Prescribing course fully funded by Optical Express in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University, Mary has been able to develop her career even further, explaining “The biggest support within Optical Express is through the continuous educational development they provide.” Now, thanks to the IP qualification and the extra medical and prescribing knowledge she has developed, it has given Mary the opportunity to deliver a better service to her patients especially when it comes to post-operative care, “I would recommend anyone to consider it [The IP qualification], it is a bit of hard work, but it’s absolutely beneficial to yourself and your patients afterwards”.
When it comes to culture, Mary defines Optical Express as a “clinical” and “learning” environment. She explained that regardless of how long you’ve been with the company or how much knowledge you have, there are still occasions where you may need to seek a second opinion and there are experienced colleagues who are always on hand to lend advice and support along with the addition of our experienced Clinical Services Department. Mary comments that, “there’s a very good support network available at Optical Express.” For early career optometrists looking for something outside the more “traditional” optometry role, Mary recommends taking the leap to the refractive optometry opportunities available with Optical Express, saying “It is something that will challenge you and will further your clinical skills”. Describing the role as “rewarding”, and at times “emotional”, getting to see how patients’ lives has been transformed at the end of their journey is something that brings “great satisfaction” to Mary’s career.