The Value of 'Mentorship on the Job'

By

By Laurie Lesser, OD

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success, he discusses the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve true mastery in anything. I believe this holds true in many professions. We leave school with the theoretical and technical knowledge of our field but not even close to 10,000 hours of real-world experience. This is why you want mentorship on the job.

In my experience, a mentor is someone who is there to advise and guide you because he or she wants you to succeed. Mentorship has been shown to improve confidence and reduce levels of stress, which makes all the difference for a new grad or even someone changing modes of practice.

In optometry, every patient you see hones your skills and builds your confidence. It’s not just about diagnosing and refracting; there are so many other skills to learn:

• How to deal with difficult patients
• How to work with people you may not always agree with
• How to break bad news
• How to exude confidence and own the process when you are prescribing contact lenses or suggesting lens options

One of the great things about working for N.L. Elgut, MD and Associates, an independent practice affiliated with America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, is the opportunity to participate in the mentorship program. As an Area Doctor for N.L. Elgut, M.D. and Associates, I have the opportunity to onboard new ODs so that they are comfortable with our equipment, forms and patient flow, and to answer any questions they may have. Onboarding is followed later by a mentorship meeting with other doctors who have recently been hired, in a fun and informative classroom setting. Our doctors truly understand they are not on an island by themselves, but instead they have a great support system. Mentoring does not end after those first few weeks. As an Area Doctor, I’m always available to my doctors. Sometimes I’m just someone to vent to or to share an interesting case with. Often I am the person who reassures doctors that they handled something correctly or to discuss how the situation could be taken care of differently. I’m also available for sharing the stress of what will happen next on The Walking Dead.

When you graduate or decide it’s time for a career change, it is worth taking into consideration the level of support you are being offered. Having mentorship on the job can make a significant difference in your job satisfaction, no matter where that may be.

Laurie Lesser, OD, practices with N.L. Elgut, M.D. and Associates, an independent physician-owned medical practice.