Diversity of activity

Henrietta Alderman explains how diversity of activity can help expand horizons and improve career satisfaction, as long as the bedrock of a happy, healthy and stimulating working environment is in place

Henrietta Alderman

What does career satisfaction mean to you? And what would you do to achieve it?

Of course, it is different for all of us, but it is undoubtedly important to enjoy the way we spend a huge part of our day, namely the time we spend at work. For some people satisfaction comes from pushing themselves into the stretch zone on a regular basis, having variety and continual learning. For others, the satisfaction comes from repetition and the confidence of delivering to a high quality within the comfort of the familiar. Helping people is a big part of career satisfaction to many.

But whatever creates career satisfaction, the people around you will be in the mix.

The AOP’s health and wellbeing survey gave a strong indication that the support of colleagues and managers played a key role in achieving career satisfaction by helping to make a happy, healthy and stimulating working environment. Your working environment and your colleagues are likely to play a huge part in achieving career satisfaction and the softer skills of communication, team building and leadership are essential in creating a positive environment.

One of the huge advantages of an optometry career it that is can be taken in a single direction or multiple directions. A portfolio career is achievable for those who might wish to spend time in practice, time in hospital, lecturing or taking additional qualifications. The career can offer opportunities to run a business or to work flexibly, with all options in between – the choice will be different for everyone. That is not to say that it is all straightforward or that the choices are easy, but we have a section on the AOP website on career development that covers student choices onwards, which should help at the key points when you are considering your next steps.

"The AOP's visits to universities give insight to students of possible career paths"

Choice begins at university and continues throughout your career. The AOP’s visits to universities give insight to students about possible career paths, and our advice and support continues right through until retirement. We offer focused career-specific CET events for locums, for independent prescriber qualified optometrists, and for managers and leaders, to name just three. Being able to communicate effectively with colleagues and build those relationships is as important as communicating effectively with patients. Our CPD events focusing on communication skills are amongst our most popular. However, we appreciate that it is not always easy to attend events and building on our successful webinars will be part of our growing portfolio next year.

Optometrists also have opportunities to volunteer oversees, and the AOP ensures that you can practice safely while doing so. For those with an interest in helping the development of the profession we would recommend putting yourself forward for AOP council at the next round of elections as a starting point. Watch out for invitations to nominate yourself in the Spring.

Diversity of activity can help expand horizons and improve career satisfaction. So can just doing a good job every day for each patient you see. Whatever your aspirations, the AOP is here to support you.