Lauren Hutchinson – Journey into Optometry

Lauren Hutchinson is a Wiradjuri woman from Molong, Central West NSW. Lauren is an active student member with IAHA, serving on the student representative committee and competing in the IAHA HealthFusion Team Challenge. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Visual Science at the Queensland University of Technology and is currently in her final year of a Masters of Optometry.

Ever since Lauren can remember, she has wanted to pursue a career in health. “The first career I ever had my eye on was becoming a pharmacist as my mother is an assistant pharmacist. So I was exposed to this early on. I soon moved away from this and thought that maybe medicine was my calling. Until I realised that I’m a fainter. Blood and needles just are not my thing.”

“I definitely had a light bulb moment in grade 10 when I had my 2-yearly visit to my local optometrist and was explaining this predicament to him. He suggested optometry and asked if I would like to do a few days’ work experiences alongside him. After that, I have never looked back,” said Lauren.

“After deciding that optometry was what I wanted to do, I went straight to my school career adviser to see what I needed to do to achieve this. She explained to me that the entry requirements were high and that I would really need to buckle down for my HSC. So that’s what I did. I definitely had a lot of support, both at school and home. My parents and grandparents were always an amazing support system; I couldn’t have gotten through it without them. I also had the most amazing Math teacher, Mrs Pokoney. So many times, it was her support and dedication that brought me back from the brink of giving up.”

Lauren found difficulty transitioning from high school to university study; however, she she found methods to help her adapt. “The most challenging part of university was self-directed study. Coming straight from high school, where you are guided through everything, this definitely was a shock to the system. I found that time management played a HUGE role in my success throughout university. Sitting down and making a list and prioritising what I needed to get done was something I had to learn very early on.”

Lauren says that IAHA has been a source of support for her career development.

“IAHA has played a massive role in supporting me throughout my journey. Before IAHA I always knew that Indigenous and community eye health was my passion, but I had no one to guide me on how to achieve this. Even down to the everyday mental breakdowns, the friends I have made through IAHA have always been there to comfort and support me.”

For those considering a career in optometry, Lauren says, “Do it! Optometry is a rewarding career!”

“What I love most about optometry is helping people to see. It sounds obvious, but we really do take our sight for granted. When you give a child their first pair of glasses and see the look on their face that says, ‘Is this really what the world looks like?’ that is such an amazing feeling. Or when you can pick up on a condition early, and the patient can go back to their GP and get on top of it before it causes real issues.

“It can be challenging at times, but the feeling you get when you help to improve someone’s life, even just a little, is so amazing. I would not trade it for the world.”