Having started his career in corporate Australia, Robert Rose is relishing all the rewards that have come with his ‘see change’.
I left my corporate job four years ago to pursue my aspiration to become an optometrist. Yes, optometry was not my first career choice. I had initially studied a double degree at the University of Technology Sydney and graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Science and a Bachelor of Business.
I really realised the positive impact my Dad had made on this child and his family… I too wanted to make valuable contributions
This led me into the world of corporate marketing and sales for four and a half years. As a typical business graduate, I was excited to ascend the corporate ladder and thrilled about the financial incentives that came with it. However, the monotonous 12 hour daily slog eventually left me feeling depleted and unappreciated, and I began to re-evaluate what I wanted from my life and career.
I grew up on the South Coast of New South Wales and would regularly return home to visit family during holiday periods. My parents, Peter and Linda Rose, had an established optometry practice – EyeQ Nowra – that they began in the early 1980s. My father was the optometrist, my mum the practice manager, and my brother the optical dispenser and mechanic. I grew up learning frame adjustments and assembling brock strings and would occasionally help out dispensing spectacles during holiday breaks. On one occasion, while adjusting a frame for a young patient, the child’s father commented on how much he appreciated Dad’s work to improve his son’s vision. In doing so, he said, the young boy had been better able to learn to read and subsequently, his performance at school had improved. I later learnt that the young boy had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and was under the care of a paediatrician and other allied health professionals. Dad had been managing the child’s vision and binocular vision for several months. It was then that I really realised the positive impact my Dad had made on this child and his family.
Thereafter, I too wanted to make valuable contributions to regional communities. I applied to Deakin University Optometry course in 2015 and was accepted to commence optometry school in 2016. In my final year, I was fortunate to partake in several placements in regional and metropolitan optometric practices. One of these was working in my parents’ practice where I was able to learn from a large team of professionals, including five optometrists and seven support staff, who truly provide full scope optometric care.
Following this positive experience, it was a no brainer to work alongside the same incredible team of established and young optometrists, once I graduated. Between us, we have optometry degrees from University of Melbourne, Flinders University, University of New South Wales and Deakin University.
ON THE LEARNING PATH
As a young optometrist, learning is a constant. In the first few months I was faced with cases that challenged and expanded my optometric knowledge and skills. Fortunately, each of the professionals I work with has their own area of expertise and they have always been happy to provide a helping hand. Additionally, our weekly optometry meetings provide opportunities to further our optometric knowledge and discuss interesting and challenging cases.
Working in a practice that encourages growth in special areas of interest and continual learning is exhilarating. Over the past year I have found a keen interest in specialty contact lenses, particularly orthokeratology and keratoconus management. The practice also places a strong emphasis on disease management and behavioural optometry, so there is never a dull day.
Now that I’ve left the corporate world well behind and moved back to regional Australia, I am thoroughly enjoying the greater worklife balance that optometry provides.
Interestingly, my biggest challenge has come with working with my father – I have had to learn to manage my own high expectations around building my name within the practice and community.
When I reflect back on the three degrees and 13 years it’s taken to find my passion, I have no regrets. I would recommend this career to anyone – whether it’s your dream job or a career change.
Robert Rose graduated from Deakin University in 2019 and works as an optometrist at EyeQ Nowra.