Where to begin?
This is the scary yet exciting part for a newly qualified optometrist as your exams are all finished and completed, the stresses of studying are now all in the past and you can now start really looking forward to where your career can go as well as making some good money along the way (as I’m sure you wasn’t out splashing the cash on your pre-reg salary!).
Many optometrists decide to stay the same company they undertook their pre-reg, which we will come onto later, without knowing what else is out there and who offers what. My advice here is to talk to an optical recruitment consultant (Vivid Optical 😉), speak with friends at other stores or previous colleagues about their experiences at different companies as you never know how your situation could be improved elsewhere. There are different companies that could be better suited to your needs and improve on aspects such as travel time, career development, testing times, ethos etc.
The most common mistake made by a newly qualified optometrist is taking the easy option and not finding out what else is out there. If you are extremely settled and enjoy where you work and feel nothing can be bettered, then there is no harm done (although situations can always be improved!). However, if you are staying because its an easy option or you have a buy out then you could come to regret this later down the line, which takes me onto the topic of buy outs.
Unfortunately, buy outs are something that most newly qualified optometrists have in their contract as their employers have invested money into their optom. Most newly qualified optometrists believe that they must stay and cannot leave until this “restriction” has come to an end, BUT, this is not quite correct. Buy outs are something that can be paid off of by yourself or by your new employer if they agree to it, as many companies (particularly multiples) can accommodate buying you out of your contract.
The question that always comes next is why should I move?
This is always a difficult question as there are so many variants as to the reasons why someone might want to leave. First, you must always be realistic and find somewhere that can match the criteria in which you are looking for. My biggest piece of advice for a newly qualified optometrist is to find a residency position that can provide you with the development you need at the earliest part of your career. You need to surround yourself by people that are willing to help and guide you in the right direction.
The reason I say this is that I have met and spoken with so many new optometrist’s that become a locum as soon as they have qualified when they are just not ready. The expectations are much higher as a locum, there is little to no support and the pace is much quicker. Overall, a locum optometrist has much more pressure and you need to be experienced enough to deal with this.
There’re numerous reasons as to why somewhere else might be better for you, such as it could be more financially rewarding, it could be a better location, they could take your career somewhere that your current employers can’t, but whatever it is make sure it is suited to what you are looking for otherwise you’ll find yourself chopping and changing jobs which is never a good thing.
Overall, it is extremely important that, as a newly qualified optometrist, you know all the possible options out there and what they can offer your career – it’s like buying a house, the first house you see are you going to buy it there and then or will you visit other houses to see if they are any better?
With so many vacancies across the UK, it is vital that as a newly qualified optometrist you gain that experience and build your confidence over the first couple of years in a residency position (as said earlier) and add to your skills as this will only benefit you in the future. Often this is done by gaining experience within a different environment and with the support of other people.
Hopefully this all makes sense to you and has made you think a little more. If you do not know what the intricate differences are between each company, then I recommend on giving us a call! But just remember, you are all at a really exciting time of your life right now so what’s the worst that can happen?
Written by Bradley Jordan
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