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Aileen Towse - Optometrist

Aileen-Optometrist

For the last three years, Aileen has been working for an independent optometry practice where she's responsible for not only seeing customers and performing eye exams but also selecting the store's stock, as well as accounting and sales. 

With a career in optics spanning over 14 years, Aileen has experienced many highs! Read all about them here and her tips for anyone wanting to explore a career in optometry. 

What did you study and what are the steps you took to be where you are today?

I studied a Bachelor of Optometry for four years and I also completed a Masters of Optometry at the University of New South Wales.

What inspired this career path?

I’ve worn glasses since I was 11 years old and contact lenses since I was 13 years old. I also like the idea of helping people and felt that vision was the most important of our five senses.

What was your first job?

I shelved books at our local library at the age of 15.

Tell us a little more about your role and explain a typical day on the job

I see someone new every 30 minutes. I would chat to them about why they are in to see me, take a detailed history, then examine their sight, and the front and back of the eye (retina). I am also involved in the fashion, which includes seeing representatives from the suppliers to select stock and predict the next season’s trends. There is also a business side to my role, which involves accounting and sales.

What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in your career?

People get bored of their jobs but I have never been bored even though I have been involved in Optics for the last 14 years. The key to not being bored is to explore all aspects of Optometry. I have worked in a boutique practice that serves celebrities, I have been the National Professional Services Manager for a chain of Optometry stores, had the opportunity to travel all around Australia and been involved in Optometry research, and have supervised students at the University of New South Wales.

Name the best of your job

The best part happens when you save someone’s sight. It’s a pleasure seeing a child see properly for the first time. Recently, a mum was told the daughter will always have only 30% vision in one eye and nothing can be done by an eye doctor but with new glasses and eye exercises for a few months, her daughter now has 100% vision. Her mum burst into tears with happiness.

What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?

Smile always. Do something you love so work doesn’t feel like work.

What do you wish someone had told you before going into optometry?

You’ll be studying eight hours a day every day to pass your exams. It is an extremely difficult course (I had to get 99.0 to be accepted into optometry after Year 12 exams). 

What advice would you give someone wanting to become an optometrist?

Explore all aspects of optometry from fashion to management, business, retail, science, research, advanced contact lenses and behavioural optometry.

What qualities and skills should people have if they want to go down this career path?

Compassion, empathy, good at maths, communication skills, focus, determination, and friendliness (you're working with new people every day).

Where do people have to start to get into optometry what is the standard salary?

You must go into university to go into optometry. The salary for a newly graduated optometrist is $70,000. 

Name a career highlight

Being a National Professional Services Manager. Tasks in this role included:
- Setting up mobile optometry services to aged care facilities
- Writing community health articles for local newspapers
- Leading clinical governance discussions
- Influencing product development and promotional offers

What’s next for you?

Having a chain of my own optometry stores, and designing and manufacturing my own range of frames and sunglasses.

Do you see yourself in the optometry field? Get the skills to help others and become an Allied Health professional with our range of courses! 

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