Happenings and events from the optometry divisions in Australia and New Zealand
As I write this I’m travelling around regional NSW meeting with members and talking about the new national registration laws. Whilst there is much interest in the new CPD requirements, I am surprised at how much interest there is in the new complaints handling system, particularly where the complaints deal with commercial, rather than professional, matters.
John Davis – a name familiar to a great many of you – is travelling with me. In response to a question about this topic, John gave some brief but very wise advice – just get it settled within the practice.
…a straw poll of the 20 people attending the inaugural session…revealed at least a couple of members who had been through the traumatic experience of having a patient collapse in their clinic…
Now we all know that it is far better to try and settle patient problems quickly, rather than let them escalate to Fair Trading and the like. But John made a very good point which further strengthens the argument.
Organisations like Fair Trading not only investigate complains, they record them. So even if you have a complaint dismissed, it is logged. If another complaint comes in, it joins the first one – and you start to develop a profile. More complaints, the profile grows. And if it continues, maybe the department might decide to investigate why so many people seem to be having difficulties with that particular provider.
It is never a good strategy to bring yourself to the attention of government departments – especially ones with significant investigative powers. As John said – just fix it. Whatever it costs, its going to be miniscule compared to the time and angst a formal complaint will cost you.
And on another note entirely, it is wonderful to be able to say that after years of lagging behind other jurisdictions with regards to therapeutic practice, NSW is now the benchmark for progressive legislation which will allow optometrists to practice to the fullest extent of their competency.
On 1 July 2010, NSW became the first state to cede its powers over therapeutic prescribing to the new Optometrists Board Australia. What that means is that therapeutically endorsed optometrists in NSW now have access to the full therapeutics list published by the OBA. Whilst other jurisdictions have said they will follow suit, for a while at least NSW stands alone at the head of the queue.
The Victorian Division recently held the first of several sessions on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). We will hold a further three sessions this year to meet demand from members keen to ensure they meet their new requirements under national registration.
There has been some scepticism expressed about the direct relevance of CPR training for optometrists in their daily practice. However, a straw poll of the 20 people attending the inaugural session hosted by the Victorian Division revealed at least a couple of members who had been through the traumatic experience of having a patient collapse in their clinic.
The sessions were delivered by an experienced paramedic, so a few members took the opportunity to ask for advice on some of the health issues that may be more likely to occur during an optometry consultation than a cardiac arrest or death. For example, optometrists had experienced patients fainting and having epileptic seizures. Our presenter was happy to spend some time on these questions.
The session included training in manual CPR technique, as well as the use and role of automated portable external defibrillators (AEDs). These devices, which are easy to use and comparatively common in public settings in countries like the U.S., plausibly could be purchased for an optometry practice in case of an emergency. It was particularly sobering to learn that there are many Australian lives that could be saved by either the use of manual CPR, or by having ready access to an AED.
Of course, CPR is just part of the new standards relating to continuing professional development, and we have undertaken to assist members by providing significant opportunities for members to earn points.
In September we will be conducting a session called Vision Screenings 101, which will answer a range of common questions about vision screenings for children, in occupational settings, or in contexts such as community eye health screening interventions like the Vision Van. You’ll hear from members experienced in work place screenings or programs in kindergartens. We’ll explore a range of issues, such as: Why should I do it? What equipment will I need? Screen or test? Billing and charging? The session will also cover legal and practical considerations around record keeping and follow up.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on (AUS) 03 9652 9100.
We’ve spoken before about the close relationship we share with Diabetes Australia Queensland (DAQ). Senior officers from both organisations meet on a regular basis and DAQ always makes a speaking place available to us at their regular expos, which are attended by up to 500 patients with diabetes. From time to time, the division also staffs an exhibition at the expos. These events represent a wonderful opportunity for members to meet hundreds of patients and potential patients and to spread the word about the critical role of optometrists in the diabetes equation.
OAA Director Kady Brandon has kindly volunteered to fly from Brisbane to Roma on Saturday, 11 September to present the lecture, “Diabetes and Optometry”. Roma doesn’t have a permanent optometrist but is serviced by visiting optometrists who, unfortunately, were not able to make the expo on this occasion. I will be joining Kady as an exhibitor to explain the role of optometrists in diabetes diagnosis and management as well as providing educational and promotional materials to the expected 200 attendees. All attendees receive an OAA promotional bag with brochures and other items.
Future dates are:
16 October – Gladstone, Gladstone Entertainment Centre (speaker needed),
13 November – Brisbane, Parliamentary Annex (Aphrodite Livanes confirmed as speaker),
26 February 2011 – Maryborough, The Brolga Riverside Theatre & Convention Centre (speaker needed),
26 March – Longreach, Longreach Civic and Cultural Centre (speaker needed),
7 May – Townsville, Townsville Entertainment Centre (speaker needed) and
18 June – Logan, Logan Entertainment Centre (speaker needed).
I would be pleased to hear from members in these areas who are interested in making a presentation. The OAA supplies a PowerPoint presentation, which can be adapted to local conditions. Please contact me at email@example.com.
DAQ intends to add value to the expo experience by hosting a pre-planning day in advance of each event and will ask local optometrists to be represented. DAQ will coordinate pre-planning trips to each centre to meet with key stakeholders, view the venue and finalise planning. As well as inviting OAA members, invitations will also be sent to local Divisions of General Practice and a range of key health professionals in the community including indigenous health services, exercise physiologists and podiatrists.
In late July, WA commenced training in the first Ocular Therapeutics Course. The course, which was run on behalf of OAA by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), was attended by 30 members from the State, eager to attain endorsement to prescribe therapeutic medications. The course will run over the next six – eight months and will continue to be held for at least the next two to three years for WA.
Importantly, 2010 is the first time UNSW has run the course outside the institution. In the past, members have had to travel to New South Wales to attend, a proposition which has been prohibitive for many, both in terms of cost and time involved. OAA SA has also piggy backed off the initiative with its own Ocular Therapeutics Course run in Adelaide.
It’s great to see UNSW being flexible and prepared to help out this way by delivering the course locally. It means a lot to both our states and members.
The Western Australia Vision Education Conference (WAVE) kicked off in August. This is the sixth year that the course has been run in its current format with its unique feature of the hands on clinical workshops. A highlight of this year’s workshops was the CPR refresher training that will help satisfy the ongoing registration requirements for national registration. A further initiative for 2010 was the introduction of a dispenser’s and practice staff lecture series that ran concurrently with the optometry conference. The lecture series provided valuable structured training for dispensers, who aren’t always able to obtain regular education and instruction, especially in a conference format. WAVE once again attracted more than 200 attendees this year. While the Dispensers and Practice Staff Lecture series attracted a modest 20 individuals, for its first attempt, this was a good starting point and we are confident this number will grow over time – not only locally but with interstate interest as well.
We were sad to farewell Lily Wegrzynowski, an OAA WA director who, after 20 years, has relocated back to Melbourne. Lily has been a very important member of our association. She served on our executive for approximately 10 years and was a past president. Lily also served on the WA Optometrist Registration Board and has made a valuable contribution to the WA profession both at a state and national level. We thank Lily for her immense contribution to OAA and wish her all the best in her new role as Human Resources Manager for Eyecare Partners.
Finally, I would like to welcome a new staff member, Melissa Platt, who recently came on board as our Office Administrator. Melissa is already making a fantastic contribution to our organisation and I look forward to her ongoing efforts.
The New Zealand Association of Optometrists
Each year since 2002, the New Zealand Association of Optometrists has headed a month-long eye health promotion campaign called ‘Save Our Sight’ (SOS), which aims to raise awareness that regular eye examination by an optometrist can save sight; eye health is an essential part of maintaining personal health; to educate people about the realities of living with impaired vision; and highlighting the importance of vision for performance at school, at work and at play.
SOS month runs during September and our key messages for 2010:
- Protect your eyes from UV outdoors by using eyewear that blocks 100 per cent of the harmful rays
- Schedule a comprehensive eye exam every two years.
The SOS campaign intends to inform the public about the difference between a comprehensive examination, which is at least a nine step process and takes some time to complete, and quick tests, which check only for prescription changes but may not detect major eye diseases.
More details can be found on the new website: www.saveoursight.co.nz