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HomeminewsUNSW Optoms School Boosts Student Experience

UNSW Optoms School Boosts Student Experience

Six new consulting rooms, a refurbished reception area, a host of new clinical equipment and a strong mentoring program will significantly enhance the learning experience for students at the University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science.

In her opening speech at the newly refurbished Optometry Clinic on Monday 1 August, Head of School Professor Fiona Stapleton said the Optometry Clinic will meet the needs of the growing number of students who are studying optometry at UNSW.

She said the significant refurbishments are the result of a collaborative effort between the School of Optometry and Vision Science, the University of New South Wales, professional bodies and the business community.

“We are deeply indebted to the Optometry Association of NSW and ACT for their vision in getting the ball rolling and supporting (the project),” said Professor Stapleton.

Prof. Stapleton said students have reported how helpful the mentoring program is – both in gaining valuable communication and dispensing skills as well as building powerful professional networks for the future.

The Optometry School will enable patient numbers to double in fifth year clinics while a Red Eye Clinic for acute care will provide students with valuable therapeutic experience as they deal with patients in collaboration with the 12 general practitioners on campus.

A boosted mentoring program with “more than 30 volunteer leaders from the profession” will ensure there is a high ratio of supervisors to students. These supervisors will oversee and help students “shape” patient consultations.

Among a host of project supporters, Prof. Stapleton thanked ODMA for its assistance. “This is the first time that ODMA has partnered with the University in this way… they have provided an enormous financial contribution for the relocation of the reception and the re-fit as well as consignment stock. Their provision of dispensing mentors has been invaluable – we now have experienced dispensers to work alongside the optometry students to assist with expert consultation and communication skills.”

Prof. Stapleton said students have reported how helpful the mentoring program is – both in gaining valuable communication and dispensing skills as well as building powerful professional networks for the future.

She added that ODMA’s recent help with an external review of the dispensing teaching program ensured “we were dispensing to the highest standard in our program”.

Specsavers contributed in-kind support to the project “in alignment with their vision to see work ready graduates from the optometry school”. Contributions from the lens companies have the clinics well stocked. “I don’t think I’ve seen all these dispensing tools in one place before – it’s a tremendous opportunity,” said Prof. Stapleton.

Technology has also been boosted with patient management systems, fully networked computers and computerised test charts in all the rooms. An express contact lens clinic will enhance the contact lens fitting experience for undergraduates.

Carina Trinh, President of the UNSW Student Optometry Society said from the student’s perspective the new facilities have already made a difference. “We’re able to see many more patients and the new clinical dispensing area is much better – it’s easier to communicate with the dispensers and the members of ODMA.” She added that the new learning environment “will enhance the clinical experience at the university” as well as the student’s sense of well-being.

In the closing address, the Dean of the University’s NSW Faculty of Science, Professor Merlin Crossley said that optometry is “vitally important because we have an ageing population and that our changing demographics have a greater disposition to eye disorders”.

He went on to thank the contributions of the business community, noting that as technology becomes more sophisticated the costs of equipping a school such as the School of Optometry and Vision Science increase. “The cost makes it more and more difficult – and more and more important to secure professional support,” he said.

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