Benefits of Mentoring in Optometry

How an optometry mentor can help new grad optometrists succeed

By Natalie Winzer, iHire
optometry mentor with her mentee in the background caring for a patient

You’ve graduated from optometry school, passed the boards, got your license, and are about to launch your optometry career. But even with all that education and preparation, there’s simply no replacement for the knowledge, confidence, and intuition gained from on-the-job experience.

Whether you’re joining an existing practice as an associate or planning to run your own, you’re likely feeling a bit overwhelmed. That’s where an optometry mentor comes in.

 

Benefits of Mentoring in Optometry

While you can’t speed up time and become a seasoned optometrist overnight, you can learn from those who have been in your shoes and built successful optometry careers. An optometry mentor is a great resource for advice on how to handle tough practice situations or solve a problem you’ve never encountered before. Plus, you’ll add one more person to your professional network (always a good thing).

Mentoring isn’t just about helping a new grad optometrist start their optometry career on the right track, either. Mentors themselves will reap benefits from these relationships as well, including improved teaching, training, and leadership skills, renewed enthusiasm for their practice, and a reputation in the optometry community as someone willing to give back.

Mentors are likely to learn something new from their mentees, too. Don’t be afraid to tell your mentor about the latest techniques and technologies you learned about in optometry school. Share your thoughts on exciting industry trends. Mentoring in optometry should be a two-way street.

 

new grad optometrist with his mentor and a pediatric patient

 

What to Look for in an Optometry Mentor

On a very basic level, you and your mentor should “click.” A short phone call or in-person meeting should enable both of you to determine how well you might work together. Once you feel good about your compatibility, ask yourself whether or not your potential mentor:

  • Has a positive outlook on the optometry industry
  • Is willing to invest time and energy into the relationship
  • Exhibits patience and enthusiasm for helping others
  • Is clear and consistent in their communication
  • Practices in a specialized area or specific setting that aligns with your career interests
  • Comes recommended by your colleagues, school administrators, etc.

 

How to Be a Good Optometry Mentee

Willingness to learn from a seasoned optometrist is essential, of course, but to get the most out of your mentorship you should also be:

  • Receptive to constructive feedback
  • An excellent listener
  • Mindful of your weaknesses and unafraid to ask for help
  • Extremely respectful of your mentor’s time
  • Aware that you are ultimately responsible for your own professional growth

 

optometry mentees with a mentor in an optometry office

 

Keys to a Successful Optometry Mentor/Mentee Relationship

You and your mentor should follow these tips to make sure your relationship is mutually beneficial:

  • Set clear expectations and ensure you’re both on the same page in terms of the time commitment and what you hope to achieve (perhaps even put it in writing)
  • Stay focused on optometry-specific career development and try to avoid life coaching
  • Regularly evaluate your progress together and adjust your goals as necessary

 

 

Launching your career as a new grad optometrist is exciting, rewarding, and scary all at once. Find a mentor to get invaluable insights into your field, increase your chances of success, and form a bond that could last years.

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