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Yvonne O’sullivan Optometrist Partner at Specsavers Dubbo Scotland is a very beautiful place, but it is also very cold and rainy – not as sunny as Dubbo. Growing up in Scotland, there was not as much outdoorsy stuff as what you guys have here. When we moved here, we really noticed that a lot of kids do lots of sports on weekends and there are parks, and everyone is outdoors. Whereas in Scotland, there are a lot more indoor activities like swimming centres. Growing up, I was in the school band
– I used to play the cornet. So that took up a lot of my time before and after school.
I was deciding between optometry and pharmacy when I was in my final years of school. I applied for both and got into both, but I thought eyes would be more exciting than drugs (laughs). And I get to spend time with people one on one and have a good chat. I worked for Specsavers in a little town on the west coast of Scotland.
It was a similar demographic to Dubbo – Scotland’s equivalent of the country. I worked with the same store in Scotland for nine and a half years. So all the way through uni until I was qualified, and then I was an optometrist for about six years. I got to the point where I knew I wanted more and I wanted my own practice. I
had a look around Scotland to see if there were any practices that were looking for an Optometrist Partner, but because Specsavers has been in Scotland for 30 years, it is all very static. When I looked out here (to Australia), there was a lot more happening and
a lot more new opportunities. I did the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand (OCANZ) exams, so that I could come out and practice in Australia.
I moved here four years ago, when I was 29. My husband Mark is Scottish too and he moved with me, so it was just the two of us. Both of our sets of our parents and extended family are still in Scotland. Mark is a Physics teacher and worked at St Johns for the first three years we were here, and he has just recently moved to Distance Education. There is nothing like distance education in Scotland, because there is no distance (laughs). It’s about four hours’ drive from top to bottom... Moving to Australia gave a whole different appreciation of scale. For example, my sister in Scotland lived maybe two hours away from me and I’d see her once every couple of months to make the trip, because it was seen as quite a big trip and you had to make a weekend of it. Whereas here, we’ll just go to Orange for the day or go to Mudgee and go wine tasting. You certainly learn to travel a lot more when you come here. Which is great, we love the space. America is a slightly different optometry
model to Australia and the UK, as they have to go through medical school first. They’re more of an ophthalmologist to be honest, so you see an eye surgeon for your glasses. Whereas optometrists here are moreso just glasses and lenses. So America was never on the cards. Specsavers also goes out to Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and a lot of Europe. But I really liked the idea of Australia because it is so similar in culture to the UK. And I am not very good with languages (laughs), so I couldn’t see
myself learning a new language to move. It’s the same country kind of mentality.
All the patients are really lovely and friendly and have time for you. I didn’t want to move to a city store. I wouldn’t do anything else, I love my job. And having the opportunity to not only
do the optometry side of the job but have my own practice and team to serve the community – I really enjoy that.
- Photo by Sophia Rouse, Interview by Darcee Nixon