HAPPENINGS & EVENTS FROM AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND’S OPTOMETRY DIVISIONS
At the Victorian Division, we think ongoing education is important in life and crucial in optometry. Optometry is a dynamic field. There is much to review, learn and conquer! To provide the best possible care to patients, optometrists need to ensure their clinical skills are constantly honed and developed as well as being up- to-date with the latest product information.
Whist most of our members regularly achieve the 80 Continuing Professional Development points in a two year calendar cycle as required by the Association, there is still a small group who don’t.
With a range of CPD options now available, it is getting easier and easier to achieve the points. The OAA conferences give you a chance to knock over most of your annual points allocation in one hit – SRC, Blue Sky, WAVE, TLC and Queensland Vision all offer first rate education activities. There are also special interest conferences offering comprehensive education opportunities (ACBO, CLIC). There are many one-off sessions provided by the ophthalmic industry at no cost. For those with family or distance constraints, there is an increasing range of online education options to be undertaken at a time that suits you.
We do understand that members’ professional or personal circumstances can change – making it difficult to achieve the points. For this reason we have an exemption policy. Members on leave or absent from practice for a period of more than six months of a two-calendar- year period will be entitled to a CPD exemption of 40 points for that 24 month period. It is important that you contact the office if your circumstances change.
Currently there are small penalties for not achieving the minimum CPD requirements. The most obvious of these is the larger excess payable on an insurance claim against a member who has not maintained their continued professional development. With the introduction of national registration in July next year CPD will become compulsory.
With this in mind we wrote to members earlier in the year to let them know how important it is that they get into a routine of undertaking CPD activities.
We have two important messages for members:
- If you are not regularly undertaking CPD activities, you need to think about how you can start now.
- If your personal or professional situation has changed talk to your association – you may be eligible for a CPD exemption. Terri Smith
“Decide in haste, repent at leisure” – there can be no better advice for optometrists than this well-worn maxim in light of the current frenzied efforts to recruit ‘partners’ to franchise opportunities in the Australian market.
In assessing any business opportunity the rules are basically the same – look closely at what is being offered, gather a lot of information about the business that you are considering, spend the time, effort and, importantly, money to obtain expert, robust legal and accounting advice. Most importantly, talk to current franchisees about their experiences.
Now with regard to the last point, make sure you talk to people of your choosing and not just those whom the companies are happy for you to talk to. It’s easy to do – find out where the current franchisees are located and ring them! Be up front about who you are and ask if they would be willing to have a confidential chat about their experiences.
Think carefully about the questions you ask – in particular, focus on issues that aren’t dealt with in the promotional blurbs from the franchise principals. For example:
- What have been the positives about taking up a franchise with X?
- And what hasn’t gone as well as you expected?
- Have there been any serious matters that remain unresolved?
- If you do have issues, how are they dealt with?
- Turnover is often publicly quoted but never profit – has your net profit improved as a result of taking up the franchise?
- In percentage terms, how much would you estimate that it has improved and over what period?
- Have you encountered any unexpected additional expenses – e.g. more staff, because of an increase in unit turnover?
- Has this been at least offset by the increase in net profit generated?
- Are you happy with the hours that this new venture requires you to put in?
If anyone starts talking to you about ‘turnover’ or ‘takings’ politely stop them in their tracks and ask them about ‘profit’. Turnover is a meaningless term. It is used by marketing people because it involves big, impressive numbers. It means nothing – profit is the only game in town.
To go back to the topic of legal and accounting advice, my very strong recommendation is that you seek that advice from a specialised commercial lawyer – your local solicitor who handles wills and conveyancing is unlikely to have the experience and expertise to give you the sort of robust advice that you absolutely need in this sort of matter. If you don’t know a good commercial lawyer, we’ll be happy to refer you.
So, in summary – deciding to go with a business partnership or franchise opportunity (or any other type of corporate affiliation) should be a life changing decision for you and your practice. Get the right advice, consider the offer carefully and make sure that, whatever you decide, it really is right for you. Andrew McKinnon
Nominations have been sent to the Queensland/Northern Territory Division’s 900 members asking them to consider nomination to Council. Council comprises a President, Vice-President, Treasurer and five councillors and those positions are currently held by Shannon Pugh, Henry Heron and Nancy Atkinson and Tom Bennett, Kady Brandon, Jason Holland, Simon Hurwood and Kate Johnson.
No doubt some of the existing councillors will seek re-election and it would be nice to think that other members might seek election as well. It is always good to see new members coming on board with fresh ideas and energy to burn.
Nominations close on 25 September. If the number of nominations exceed positions available, an election will be required with successful candidates declared at the 7 November Annual General Meeting.
No doubt most of Council’s 2009/2010 agenda will focus on Government with the tired quest for prescribing therapeutics, consistent with the rest of the country, at number one with other goals following, including:
- Working with Government to ensure that all public eye patients are required to consult a private optometrist in the first instance.
- Working with the RACGP and Divisions of GP to encourage all eye patients out of GP clinics and into optometry practices.
- Enabling optometrists to sign Workcover forms and a raft of other forms.
- School screening by private optometrists.
- Funding the Queensland Vision Initiative Inc. to facilitate an ongoing State-wide, eye health awareness campaign.
- Mandatory optometric examinations for all drivers.
Wonderful news from QUT’s Acting Head of School Dr. Peter Hendicott, who announced record enrolments for the second semester, Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics course. Fifty-one students enrolled including two from South Australia, three from Tasmania, four from New South Wales, one from the ACT, three from Victoria and two from New Zealand meaning that 30 per cent of graduates from the course return to their interstate/ overseas practices to use and prescribe medications, including the glaucoma and uveitis drops forbidden in Queensland. The Government gave these drops the go- ahead at the 21 March 2009 State election and has since refused to discuss adding them to the list. Greg Johnson
Save our Sight 2009 – Are you missing anything?
The New Zealand Association of Optometrists’ annual Save our Sight awareness campaign this September asks the leading question of the New Zealand public: “Are you missing anything?”
The overarching objective of the promotion is to remind people how important it is to have a regular eye examination by an optometrist, and the possible tragic consequences should a detectable and preventable condition go undetected.
The Save our Sight campaign strongly encourages people to ask themselves the question: “Am I missing something?” and then give the answer: “Take the time to find out by scheduling an appointment with your optometrist today.”
For the first time this year, the NZAO are being supported by a partnership with Transitions as a major sponsor for the awareness campaign.
“We are delighted to have Transitions’ participation which will help get the message to a wide audience through tagging our message to their television advertising throughout the month,” NZAO National Director, Dr. Frederikson says.
Transitions’ television commercials on UV protection throughout September will feature taglines ‘Save our Sight: preventing blindness – saving sight.’ The advertisements will also feature the Save our Sight logo and the NZAO logo. Thanks to Transitions, the company’s dramatic Fried Egg posters along with brochures on UV protection have been distributed to optometry practices to display and to post in local communities.
The three themes for the 2009 awareness month will be: Eye Protection: Encouraging Shady Behaviour; Seeing Well and Looking Good; and Technology and Glasses in the 21st Century.
“Glasses are important not just for improving vision. They have an important role in protecting the health and safety of our eyes. As this year’s Save our Sight Awareness month is scheduled for September, there are two opportunities for promoting the importance of UV eye protection: spring skiing and the advent of summer,” Dr. Frederikson says.
Eye damage from the sun’s UV radiation can lead to cataracts, AMD, some cancers and eye disorders. So during Save our Sight, the NZAO will tell people why it’s important to get good advice on the best type of eye protection, including protection from glare, reflected light and other impacts from the sun. The association plans to use Save our Sight month to release the findings of consumer research which has been undertaken on its behalf.
Professor Mark Ahn, Professor of Strategic Management at Victoria University of Wellington, has developed a consumer eye health survey to discover just how much the average person understands about eye health with multiple choice questions such as: “AMD affects ….” and “Which of the following conditions can be found from a regular eye examination….”
“The more we know about gaps in people’s knowledge and understanding about eye health, the better armed we will be to educate the public around important issues; particularly the importance of a regular eye examination by an optometrist,” Dr. Frederikson says.
A new outlet for the association’s messages this year will be Health TV which broadcasts in 200 general practice locations and hospitals, which will be used to inform and educate people about preventable blindness and other sight issues.
It’s often when people are reading that they first notice they’re not seeing quite as well as they used to. So what better way to remind people to make time to see their optometrist than bookmarks which will include some hard facts on eyesight as well as a call to action to: “Schedule an Eye Exam Today”.