Keeping the profession in the family
Senior optometrist Paul Adler, director at Paul Adler Opticians, a Hakim Group independent practice, shares how he followed in his father’s footsteps
26 April 2023
Who is your inspiration, and can you tell us more about them?
My dad was an optometrist, very clinical and way and ahead of his time. I used to go to the practice after school to wait to be taken home by him. I would hang around the practice a lot and he did all sorts of stuff, blood pressure measurements and urine samples for diabetes and pre-screening.
Why did you decide to study optometry?
It seemed like a nice, clean, easy job. My dad loved it and I was at the practice all the time. I wanted to go to university, but I didn’t know what I wanted to study, so optometry seemed like a good fit for me.
My dad started his career as an optical technician and then eventually went on to own a practice. So, there wasn’t much he didn’t know about glazing and that sort of stuff and so I just kind of followed in his footsteps.
What attributes do you most admire about him?
Good clinical prowess and dedication to patients.
Did your dad play a part in shaping your career choices?
I wouldn't like to admit it, but probably, yes.
Is there a field within optometry he specialised in?
He was a generalist. There weren't any specialist opportunities in those days. He just did refraction and had a hospital job in low vision which he loved.
My patients are my teachers. I’m still learning from them all the time and that's what makes it fun
Is there anyone else that you would like to mention who has inspired you throughout your optometry career?
My patients. If you listen and watch carefully you can learn from what they don't tell you and from what they do tell you. My patients are my teachers. I’m still learning from them all the time and that's what makes it fun. Especially when you have that moment when you suddenly understand something. They may make a comment that they think is silly and a bit naïve, but this can help you connect the dots and think, ‘Oh, now I understand that disease or process and why this links with that. Now I understand why patients told me this.’ And so, patients, if you listen carefully, are always teaching you something new.
If you could help to inspire someone, what words of advice would you offer?
Follow your dreams. Don’t be forced into doing something because someone says you’ve got to. Do what you want to do and don’t regret any decisions you make. Base your decisions on the knowledge you have at the time; I tell my kids this often.
It doesn't matter if you make a mistake, so long as you recognise it and change direction. I've made lots of mistakes throughout my career. So just go and do something you think you want to do. It doesn't matter how hard it is, you'll get there in the end if you're committed.
Paul shares a standout moment in his optometry career…
I was really proud to have been awarded a lifetime membership for the British Association of Behavioural Optometrists. In recognition of all the teaching I had done for the organisation they also named an educational bursary after me so I’m also very proud of that too.