One reason Victorian optometrist Suzanne Sahely became involved in the Optometry Australia (formerly OAA) mentoring program was to encourage recent graduates into the field of behavioural optometry.
She is mentoring NSW optometrist Carina Trinh who wants guidance as she is unsure where her passion lays and is considering her steps for the future.
Mrs Sahely said it was good to contribute to the profession.
‘I feel I can give insights into the business side of running a private practice and encourage recent graduates into the field of behavioural optometry, which I believe is under-serviced in this country,’ she said. ‘It is something that is more meaningfully learned as different cases present themselves.’
Mrs Sahely and Ms Trinh are based in different cities so have not met but have spoken by phone.
‘I believe any optometrist with experience can pass on knowledge to their colleagues,’ Mrs Sahely said. ‘It helps to have subspecialities and my viewpoint as an independent practitioner brings another perspective.
‘University can teach only so much and the wealth of experience optometrists all around the country have practising in corporate, academic and independent environments could be utilised more.’
Mrs Sahely graduated in New Zealand in 1988 and after working for a behavioural optometrist for three years, left to study in America under two renowned practitioners in the field. She returned to NZ and established a practice which she owned for 10 years and was the first NZ optometrist to achieve a post-graduate behavioural optometry degree.
She came to Australia in 2001 and with her husband and fellow behavioural optometrist George Sahely started their own practice in Mornington. They also specialise in contact lens fitting for orthokeratology and keratoconus.
A visiting clinician mentored Mrs Sahely at university, which gave her insight into other aspects of optometry. This triggered study in the USA where she was mentored for four years. ‘Both experiences were invaluable,’ she said.
Ms Trinh, who graduated from UNSW in 2011, said she was an excitable young optometrist who had a passion for making a difference to people’s lives and providing the best option possible for every patient.
‘I work for theeyecarecompany, mainly based at the Top Ryde City practice. We specialise in contact lenses, speciality dry eye treatments such as in-office Blephasteam and meibomian gland expression, and myopia control,’ she said.
‘I have always been keen on mentorship as I benefited greatly from peer mentorship at university. My final-year mentor Vienne Leung provided me with a huge amount of guidance.
‘Knowing that I have another experienced optometrist with plenty of knowledge and wisdom especially in practice management and behavioural optometry is a comfort.
‘Last month I phoned Suzanne to ask advice on a convergency insufficiency case. Despite travelling to a seminar, she called me to go through the case and offer her plan of action. This provided me with further confidence for managing those with binocular vision and developmental issues,’ Ms Trinh said.
‘I have learned that management even from a behavioural perspective can vary between practitioners, depending on their style and beliefs. It is most beneficial to learn from all the best and through this find my own style of practice.’
She believes ongoing mentorship will allow her to learn aspects not taught at university such as appropriate fees for vision training and management strategies for certain personalities.
‘I am seeking short- and long-term advice in my future as an optometrist,’ she said. ‘I foresee an ongoing relationship as Suzanne’s warm and welcoming nature provides me with the comfort that I can continue to ask a more experienced optometrist optometry-related questions.’
For more information or to become a mentor or mentee email firstname.lastname@example.org.