UW Mentorship: Dr. Johnathan Lam

Written by Katrina Li & Rehanna Ali

Through the Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS) Mentorship Program, we had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jonathan Lam virtually. We had a great time speaking with Dr. Lam and learned a lot from him during our 2 hour meeting. Dr. Lam is a life-long resident of Nanaimo and has practiced at FYidoctors in Nanaimo since 2001. He obtained his Doctor of Optometry degree at the University of Waterloo and was elected as the BC Doctors of Optometry (BCDO)’s President in 2018. Dr. Lam is particularly skilled at fitting specialty contact lenses, including CW soft contact lenses and rigid gas permeable contact lenses.

Dr. Lam is really knowledgeable and generously shared his wisdom by answering all our questions. Firstly, he provided some general tips to build connection and trust with patients, such as: reviewing all findings with the patient (IOP, Optomap, OCT etc.) and demonstrating the difference between the new and old Rx in a trial frame. We also discussed typical examination procedures in a real Optometric setting and the decision making process in choosing appropriate tests for patients - both necessary to build efficiency and time management as we move forward.

What was most novel and invaluable to us, as we near graduation, was our discussion of how to evaluate a practice when job hunting or starting our own practice. Dr. Lam suggested that replacing a retired optometrist with a good will is the best option to open our own practice, followed by replacing an associate as our second-best option. He provided excellent advice to ask for the patient waiting list when looking for a job: a waiting list of 3 weeks is ideal for a 1 doctor practice, and a waiting list of 6 weeks is ideal for a 2 doctors office. In general, the longer the waiting list, the better; and the more doctors a practice has, the longer the waiting list should be. This tip is incredibly useful to gauge the patient flow through a practice.

In addition, we discussed the difference between a private practice and FYIDoctors. In short, the owner of a private practice has the full control of the patient flow, services offered, HR, accounts, etc., whereas FYI head office handles the business-related and HR aspects of practice, making it more convenient for the partnered doctors to focus on their patient care.

Dr. Lam’s experience and knowledge certainly help us to understand the optometry career and opportunities available to us more deeply. We genuinely appreciate Dr Lam and the CAOS Internship program for giving us this opportunity that better prepares us for our optometry journey.