By Helen Carter
In this series for the Student Hub, we are asking optometry student leaders to share some of their most important lessons. We asked Ashley Chan, a Deakin University graduate, what she wishes she knew when she started her degree.
Studying optometry is a never ending surprise.
Throughout my degree, I was always astounded by how challenging, intricate and skilful optometric work could be. I was also often taken aback by how much I loved it. The intense sense of community and camaraderie is a cornerstone of this profession, one that makes you feel constantly and consistently supported.
There have been many times where the level of intensity of studying optometry almost toppled me, but I was always brought back safely by the supportive staff and students at university. It has been reinforced to me over and over again that learning is a life-long process, and I feel extremely privileged to have done my learning in such a cohesive and encouraging environment.
Be confident in what you know and curious about what you don't.
Optometry is simultaneously the biggest and smallest profession you will encounter. To this day, I am still astounded by the enormity of this profession. There is so much to know, so many people to meet and it is constantly changing. During uni, I spent so much time trying to cram an infinite quantity of information into the limited space in my head that I never really had time to stop and appreciate just how far I'd come.
University passes by in the blink of an eye (pun intended) and it's important to remember that you aren't expected to know everything at any point during your study. Find your particular area of interest and chase it.
On the other hand, I am also always staggered by how little the profession is. Optometrists rank fewer in number compared to many other health professionals but make up for it in gusto. There have been many precious times in my university education when an optometrist has taken time and effort beyond expectation to nurture my potential. These personal investments have had such a huge impact on my path and I will always be truly grateful for that.
Ashley Chan works at the Australian College of Optometry.