The Oxford Dictionary defines a mentor as “an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience over a period of time”. However, sometimes a mentor can become much more than this.
My science teacher in year nine was probably my first most significant mentor because he sparked my curiosity in the ocular system. In an experiment, he demonstrated how a camera works and compared this with the human eye. I found the comparison very interesting and from that moment, I knew I wanted to be an optometrist. What I didn’t know then, was how important mentors like him would be to achieving my dreams.
Last year, David opened my eyes to the rewards that come from volunteering when I accompanied him to Sri Lanka
Since graduating from university, I have worked with David and Carol West at Eyecare Plus Cranbourne. They, along with my colleagues, have become my personal and professional mentors and good friends. Other optometrists often tell me how lucky I am to be working with them.
David and Carol have a wealth of knowledge and experience – in fact between them, they have about 70 years’ experience. They’ve taught me a very balanced way to practice optometry – how to care for patients like they are your own family members, how to run a successful business, and how to achieve a great workplace culture – I’ve come to believe that these are the most important things to understand.
Everyone in the team is treated with respect and that makes us want to work hard. We also genuinely want to help people, so we go above and beyond. When you have this kind of environment, the culture naturally builds. I can tell this is sensed by our patients, suppliers, and everyone who deals with the practice – they are all very loyal.
I really enjoy independent optometry because you get to choose the best approach to a given circumstance, which brands to use and which tests to perform. Being a small practice, we’re also able to offer continuity of care. In general, this gives me the opportunity to meet, get to know and take care of the families that come through the practice – including the little children. Clinically, I have an interest in inflammatory eye disease and I like using advanced technology to pick up early signs of disease.
Being part of the greater Eyecare Plus group has also been beneficial to my personal and professional development. We’re able to share knowledge and bounce ideas off other practitioners who have the same goals and ethics – this opportunity to mentor each other in different ways is invaluable.
VOLUNTEERING WITH GLOBAL HANDS
Outside clinical practice David and Carol have supported my development and to a great extent, become my life coaches. Last year, David opened my eyes to the rewards that come from volunteering when I accompanied him to Sri Lanka to work with Global Hands. This was the first time I had volunteered and with a team comprising four optometrists and four students we saw, on average, 500–600 patients per day and dispensed about 3,000 pairs of spectacles.
There were a lot of emotions going around. People were crying when they put on their spectacles for the first time because they had never been able to read or see clearly. It was so rewarding to use my skills and provide care to patients who can’t afford it. I also realised how lucky we are living in a country like Australia.
There is another very important optometrist in my life– my wife Rebecca, who I married last year. Rebecca and I have known each other and attended the same church since we were young, however, our relationship developed when we studied at university together. Currently, we are happy working in different practices, however, we don’t know what the future will bring. We hope that one day we will be given the opportunity to give back by mentoring the early career optometrists who come into our lives.
Fady Abraham graduated from the Master of Optometry program at Deakin University in 2014 and practices at Eyecare Plus Cranbourne in Victoria.