AOP Mentoring Programme

Can you offer your time and experience to support a pre-registration student or newly-qualified optometrist work towards their development goals during a crucial stage in their career?

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Sharing knowledge and expertise is fundamental to our career progression and benefits the wider profession. By offering this programme as part of our existing professional-development and support services, we hope to assist pre-registration students and newly-qualified members to prosper in their chosen careers, and provide more experienced members with an enlightening and rewarding opportunity.

Q1. What is the AOP Mentoring Programme?

The AOP Mentoring Programme is an opportunity for our pre-registration student and newly-qualified members to receive additional, impartial support from more experienced members. By working together on specific developmental goals, mentees can develop skills and confidence, and gain new professional insights.

Similarly, mentors can engage with the profession in a new way, use their knowledge to help younger peers during a crucial stage in their career, and gain new connections and perspectives.

Q2. Who are AOP mentors?

Mentors are qualified and experienced AOP member volunteers who want to use their professional experience to support and coach pre-registration students and newly-qualified optometrists.

Q3. What does being an AOP mentor involve?

Mentors create an online profile on our mentoring platform and are matched with a pre-registration student or newly-qualified ‘mentee’ to support for a three month period, helping them to reach their developmental goals.

Mentors must have been qualified for over a year prior to applying to become a mentor and cannot be on a student or newly-qualified membership grade. Mentors are also asked to select at least three areas of expertise where they can offer meaningful support to their mentee.

We recommend meeting with your mentee, via a method of your choice, once a week. Your first meeting with your mentee will be used to agree how, where, and how often you work together.

At the end of the three months, you will be asked to close your relationship and asked for feedback on your experience so we can further improve the programme.

Q4. What makes a good mentor?

A good mentor is an effective communicator who can generate trust, show empathy and understanding, and act as a sounding board for their mentee. They must also be active listeners and be willing to share their knowledge and experiences.

Q5. What will I be supporting my mentee with?

You will support your mentee with any of the categories you indicated being able to help with on your mentor profile. These are likely to be, but not limited to:

  • Clinical management
  • Confidence building/dealing with doubt
  • Communication (patients)
  • Career progression
  • Adjusting to change
  • Self-development (core skills)/self-led learning and CET/CPD
  • NHS Performers (how to get on list and obligations)
  • Relationship management/working with others
  • NHS awareness
  • Referral best practice

Q6. What is the commitment to this role?

The programme is designed to be flexible, giving mentors control over their level of involvement and time commitment, with the option to pause and re-join at different times.

Relationships last three to six months, and it will be your choice how many mentees you support at any one time (the maximum is five). After a relationship has closed, you can continue to be matched with other mentees, or step away, marking yourself as ‘unavailable’ until such a time as you feel able to support someone else.

Q7. How will I be supported as a mentor?

To get the best out of the programme we highly recommend using the resources and tools available on this platform, which include the latest academic research, mentoring guidelines and bespoke online training modules. If you, or your mentee, ever need emotional support, help is available via the AOP Peer Support Line 365 days a year.

You always have the AOP in-house team for up-to-date legal, clinical and regulatory advice and support on a variety of topics, and should feel free to signpost your mentee to these services wherever relevant.

In addition, the platform has its own FAQs section, but if your problem relates to a relationship or personal issue, you can contact [email protected]

Q8. Is there any CET that I can apply for by being a mentor?

Unfortunately not. However, with the imminent changes due in 2022, we hope to explore the possibility of CPD accreditation for the role.

Q9. Who can apply become a mentor?

If you’d like to use your professional experience and knowledge to support and coach a newly-qualified optometrist, and can say yes to the points below, please register using the button below.

  • You have been qualified for over a year and are not on our student or newly-qualified membership grades
  • You can commit to supporting a mentee for between three to six months, either virtually or face-to-face, at a time and frequency that suits you both
  • You have knowledge and experience of at least three of the areas of expertise listed above