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HomemioptometryOptometry Association Reports May 2010

Optometry Association Reports May 2010

Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and New Zealand


Andrew McKinnon

I was talking to a member recently who is feeling the pinch of competition. Two new optical outlets have opened nearby recently and both of them are pushing the “low price” angle. His dilemma is; should he join in this price wrangle?

My daughter works in advertising and I read an article about price competition in graphic design1. The article makes three great points:

When you don’t charge what you’re worth, you undermine your credibility and are sure to attract the wrong kind of clients

  • 1. You undermine your credibility by charging less. Prospective clients expect those who are good at what they do to charge more than the competition, and they’ll gladly pay a higher price to get the service they desire. After all, your prospective clients believe in “you get what you pay for,” just like most people do.
  • 2. You attract those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. When you compete on price, you attract clients who value price more than anything — including the value of your work and how it can benefit their sales, marketing, and position in their industry. As soon as someone cheaper comes along; if you’re not willing to drop your prices, those clients will be gone.
  • 3. Most people who are cheap and looking for the cheapest price can be “royal pains” to work with. Internet marketing coach Yanik Silver once told a story about the Mercedes dealership in his hometown. He said the customers with the lowest-priced, entry-level Mercedes complain the most and cause the most problems for the staff. But those who purchased the highest-priced models of Mercedes are the best clients to serve and work with.

When you don’t charge what you’re worth, you undermine your credibility and are sure to attract the wrong kind of clients. However, when you refuse to compete on price and add a lot of value to your services, you make your work more enjoyable and profitable, which will make your clients happy to pay you what you’re worth!

It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

1. Jeanna Pool from Freelance Design Marketing Association, 14 December 2009. See http://www.creativepro.com/article/three-big-reasons-never-compete-price.


Kirsty Machon

As 1 July approaches, the Optometry Board of Australia, working closely with the OAA, has been finalising the details of national registration arrangements. There will certainly be some changes, some of which are reflected right across the spectrum for all of the health professions set to be nationally registered.

Both federal and state governments have emphasised that a national scheme will have significant advantages for health practitioners, allowing portability of registration around the country, but they also emphasise the important role that national standards will have in ensuring the patients of all health practitioners in Australia can be confident in the extent of training, support and professional guidance to practice well.

For the first time, CPD will become mandatory. There will be some requirement for face-to-face hours, and those with therapeutic endorsement will need to keep up a specific program of CPD activities in this area. Once every three years, optometrists will need to have certification in CPR.

Our CPR workshops at the SRC 2010 have sold out, but we are currently in the process of setting some dates so we can help provide members with some additional opportunities to undertake CPR training later in the year.

We are taking an increasing number of calls from members eager to find out more about the national scheme. One issue that has arisen for some members relates to the recency of practice requirements.

If optometrists have been out of the profession for a period of more than three years and have done none or very little clinical practice, the Board may require that activities or measures are undertaken to ensure competency is maintained upon re-entry into the profession. There have been some concerns as to what this might mean for women who have been on maternity leave or others who have been out of practice. We can assure our members that what it won’t mean is that you are unable to be registered under the national scheme if you have recently been on leave.

We certainly do encourage members on leave to do what CPD they can, and if it’s feasible, do some clinical practice. Nonetheless, there are exemptions from CPD for genuine periods of leave from the profession, and optometrists’ circumstances will be given fair consideration on a case-by-case basis, particularly for people who have been out of the profession for periods of less than three years total.

Once national standards and guidelines are locked in, OAV will organise some briefings for members about the new scheme, how it will work, and the phase-in arrangements. You should keep an eye on your email inbox for these dates.

Although the scheme formally commences in July, your current state registration will carry over until the specified date of re-registration under the national scheme – this is likely to be November.

If you do have queries or questions about how this might affect you at this stage, we’re always happy to talk to you. You can contact our office on (AUS) 03 9652 9100 or email us: [email protected].


Greg Johnson

This month adds an exciting chapter to the Division’s ongoing conversion of other health professionals to optometry.

On Thursday 27 May, OAA President Shannon Smith and several directors will travel to Cairns to host a dinner for delegates attending the 2010 Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) congress at the Cairns Convention Centre. They will be joined by Cairns and district practitioners in the quest to better inform ADEA members of the training optometrists receive and their role in diabetes diagnosis and monitoring.

One hundred and twenty educators will attend the dinner, whereas the annual OAA-hosted event held in Brisbane attracts thirty to forty local educators. This extended forum gives metropolitan and regional optometrists the opportunity to meet educators from across the state, many of whom would not have been exposed to the role of optometrists and the equipment they employ.

The venue is Café de Mez, an informal Mediterranean venue with more than adequate presentation and audiovisual facilities. Local optometrists will be bringing along their retinal cameras to demonstrate and Cairns practitioners Lisa Penrose-Herbert and Jane Chin will make presentations on “Diabetes and Optometry” and “Dilation” techniques. Mareeba practitioner John Holme will also be in attendance.

And on the subject of diabetes, current Director and past President Nancy Atkinson presented two papers at a major “Diabetes Symposium” on Thursday 11 March in Brisbane. She was besieged with questions from the audience on a range of topics not necessarily related to diabetes. Subsequently she received a flood of email enquiries from attendees. The Division is privileged to have wonderful support from Diabetes Australia Queensland and its energetic CEO Michelle Trute.

Readers who attended last months Queensland Vision at the Gold Coast would now know that the event has a new name for 2011, Australian Vision Convention. This important innovation recognises the changing face of Australian optometry; national registration from 1 July this year and the significant participation from delegates throughout the country and abroad. The inaugural Australian Vision Convention will be held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from 29 April to 1 May 2011 – the week after Easter as always!


Tony Martella

I have just visited the NSW Graduate Program at UNSW in conjunction with the OAA NSW. Similar to what we did at the VIC graduation night, we went to the event to encourage optometry students to come to WA to work. The response was reasonable; there are some definite potential candidates who expressed interest in working in WA.

The other big thing this month is the Gibb River Road Mountain Bike Challenge from 22 to 29 May. The ride is along an unsealed road that runs between the deep port Kimberley town of Derby to El Questro in the town of Kununurra. We are entering two teams of optometrists into this 772km charity ride.

The Gibb River Road Bike Challenge is for people who are serious competitors or just people having a go for charity. For the members taking part in this challenge, it is also a good team building exercise. We have entered two teams in the charity ride, one of which is the amateur team Blind Ambition and the other is Eyesee 1, for the more serious riders. Myself, I am taking part as a support role.

The charity ride is run and organised through the WA Police Legacy charity. We have chosen to donate to the charity of our choice called ‘Equal Health’ which runs optometry clinics in India, which we got involved with through one of our members.

Equal Health facilitates Australian volunteers in the provision of free health care for communities in need in aid camps usually over a two-week period. During these camps, Equal Health volunteers test eyes, give away new spectacles, provide health education, as well as developing and implementing allied health programmes. Equal Health also provides free cataract surgery for people in India.

The charity began in January 1997 when the Australasian Dispensing Opticians Association (ADOA) conducted a fact-finding spectacle aid camp in the village areas of Tamil Nadu, India. It followed a request from the Director of a WA- sponsored orphanage to supply spectacle relief for underprivileged people in the region. The initiative was named: Spectacle Aid to India Programme. Two years later, a new organisation called Equal Health was created for the purpose of expanding the cause to include more free aid services and health disciplines. Since the first camp, another eleven camps have been conducted in India, three in Indonesia, one in Zimbabwe, one in Thailand and four in South Africa. Equal Health has also provided free spectacles for displaced Kosovars and East Timorese in camps around Australia and financially supported the repatriation of Balinese bomb victims.

I am looking for support from the profession for this charity ride. For more information: www.thegibbchallenge.net.au.


Libby Boschen

Compulsory CPD – a cloud with a very silver lining

The Optometry Board of Australia is forcing optometrists to complete a minimum level of CPD to practise! Personally, I think it is one of the best things that could have happened to optometry and optometrists. It will contribute to making happier optometrists, more successful optometry businesses and has the potential to raise the bar on clinical and professional standards, taking optometry to a new level in primary health care provision in Australia.

Why is this directive a great move for optometrists and optometry businesses? Because all the top-performing companies around the world are those that invest in their people significantly and effectively at all levels. They recognise that it is the people power in their business that brings in the money. It is no different in optometry. The problem is that life gets in the way and optometrists, like everyone else, are busy people and don’t always get around to CPD.

Unfortunately there isn’t a neat little line between CPD and financial rewards that make it glaringly obvious that CPD actually does make sense; personally, professionally and to your bottom line. I’m lucky, I’ve seen it first-hand enough times to know it’s legit. I used to be a Training Manager in the U.K. and was judge for the U.K. government in their national training awards where I had the opportunity to see behind the scenes (work practices, production figures and financial results) of a huge range of businesses ranging from British Aerospace to a rural primary school; Rolls Royce to a local family-owned bakery; shoe shops, workshops, hospitals, kindergartens, market gardens, doctor’s surgeries, chiropractors – you name it. But the one thing they all had in common? Every single one was investing in their people and every single one had tangible, measurable returns on their investment, resulting in greater financial success. Every business that ensured all of their team (from the top down, professional and vocational) were participating in regular professional development and yielded a financial reward for that effort.

Not only does it make business sense, it also makes personal sense too. When we first start work, qualification in hand, we are bursting with knowledge and enthusiasm for our profession. Maintaining our professional curiosity about new science and clinical techniques, tossing around new business models and hearing what others in our field are doing to maximise opportunities today are all ways of rekindling that post-graduate passion and enthusiasm.

CPD is great for individuals and great for business. Enjoy!


The New Zealand Association of Optometrists

NZ Optometry Conference

New Zealand OAA annual conference is being held at the Copthorne Hotel at Paihia in the beautiful Bay of Islands in the Northland region from 14 to 17 October. The conference theme is: “Systemic health and the eyes”.

Systemic disease plays an integral part in the care of patients seen in every eye care practitioner’s office. Changes in the understanding of the pathophysiology of a particular disease entity, its treatment and management and preventative measures are constantly occurring. Ocular involvement is always a consideration, not only in manifestations of the systemic disease, but also in its treatment and management. Important considerations for instance include the ocular side effects that result from pharmaceutical treatment of a variety of systemic diseases. Additionally, prevention is tantamount to all approaches of both systemic and ocular diseases.

Conference keynote speaker Dr. Diane Adamczyk, Associate Professor at SUNY State College of Optometry, is the co-author of the textbook Primary Eye Care in Systemic Disease, and author and lecturer on a variety of topics including ocular pharmacology and ocular and systemic disease.

More information can be found on the NZAO website at: www.nzao.co.nz/cpd.html


NZAO Awards Evening

On 25 March, NZAO hosted an awards evening at the Langham Hotel for local members, University of Auckland optometry students and faculty to present scholarships. Over NZD$100,000 per annum is now allocated from the NZAO Education Research Fund towards scholarships.

Awards presented on the night:

  • Peg Wood Award
  • Top student entering Part 2
  • Best Summer Written Project awards for 2009
  • Top student entering Part 3
  • Most improved student entering Part 3
  • Top student entering Part 4
  • Most improved student entering Part 4
  • Maori Scholarship 2010 (student entering Part 1)
  • NZAO Education and Research Fund: Post Grad Scholarship
  • HC Russell Memorial Postgraduate Scholarship
  • Alcon Award
  • Raymond Harry Hawkins
  • NZAO Post Doctoral Fellowship