Get support from an AOP mentor

A professional development programme designed for pre-registration, newly-qualified and locum optometrists

two people talking

Transitions in our careers can be daunting, be it from home to university, lecture-hall to practice room, paternity leave to employment, full-time employment to locum, or even just practice to practice. 

Having someone knowledgeable to call on during these times to use as a sounding board, confidante and cheerleader can help us feel better equipped to navigate the challenges they present.

By offering this programme as part of our existing professional-development and support services, we hope to assist a growing cohort of members to prosper in your chosen careers, particularly at times of need, to work towards your developmental goals and grow in confidence.

Q1. What is the AOP Mentoring Programme?

The AOP Mentoring Programme is an opportunity for our pre-registration student, newly-qualified and locum optometrist members to receive free impartial support from our more experienced optometrist members. By working together towards specific professional development goals or through work-related issues, mentees can develop skills and confidence, and gain new professional insights.

Q2. Who can apply to become a mentee?

Currently anyone on our pre-registration student, newly-qualified or locum optometrist membership grade.

We recognise that the other member grades will also benefit from this support and hope to expand the offer to more members throughout 2022.

Q3. What does being an AOP mentee involve?

You will create an online profile on our mentoring platform and are then able to choose a suitable mentor to be matched with, who will then support you for a three to six month period, helping you to reach their developmental goals.

Mentees must be on our pre-registration student, newly-qualified or locum optometrist membership grade.

We recommend meeting with your mentor, via a method of your choice (virtual, phone or face to face), once a week. Your first meeting with your mentor 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 mentee?

A good mentee is respectful and committed to taking responsibility for your own learning and development. You should have realistic expectations of the progress you want to make, and of the mentor/mentee relationship and be open about your needs. A mentee should understand that confidentiality is a key element in building trust with your mentor.

Q5. Who are AOP mentors?

Mentors are qualified and experienced AOP member volunteers who want to use their professional experience to support and coach optometrists with developmental goals or career challenges they wish to overcome.

Q6. What will my mentor be able to support me with?

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

  • Clinical management
  • Confidence building/dealing with doubt
  • Communication skills
  • Career progression
  • Adjusting to change
  • Self-development (core skills)/self-led learning and CPD
  • Relationship management/working with others
  • NHS awareness and understanding
  • Referral best practice
  • Influencing and negotiating

Q7. What is the time commitment to this role?

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

Relationships last three months but can be extended (if agreed with your mentor) to six. After a relationship has closed, you are able to request matches with another mentor on the platform.

Q8. How will I be supported as a mentee?

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 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.

In addition, the platform has its own FAQs section, but if your problem relates to a mentor relationship or a personal issue which you would rather not discuss with your mentor, you can contact [email protected]

Q9. Is there any CPD that I can apply for by being a mentee?

Depending on what you work towards, you may be able to use your mentoring experience to apply for one point via self-directed CPD. You can learn more about how to do this on the GOC website.