I want to start this month’s report with a big thank you to members who have provided feedback over the past two months. It is so important for us to know what members want in order to provide the best possible services.
For the many members who took the time to complete our online survey – and we know it took some time to get through all those questions – please be assured that you have provided us with invaluable information. While the information about what you want from your association will help us tailor activities to meet member needs, the additional information about where you work and your future expectations about working as an optometrist will help us better understand and plan for the optometry workforce. This is particularly important with the introduction of a second optometry course in Victoria this year.
Moving ‘away from home’ should be seen as a fantastic opportunity and potentially extremely rewarding part of your development
A further group of young members (more than 25) agreed to participate in a different type of research. They each participated in an extended telephone interview designed to help us better understand our younger members, their hopes, plans and expectations. Results from both these research projects will
be available soon.
Our Future Members
Optometry education in Victoria now bears little resemblance to even five years ago. The University of Melbourne postgraduate optometry program is now well underway and Deakin University has commenced its undergraduate optometry program. I was delighted to have an opportunity to speak to the new Deakin optometry students at their open day last month and have had the chance to meet the University of Melbourne post grad Optometry students. These are our future members and the future of the profession. It is great to see their enthusiasm for their chosen career.
SRC and Events
Plans for Southern Regional Congress (SRC) 2012 from 19 to 21 May are well underway. We have a terrific education program and Expo again this year and are looking forward to welcoming many Victorian members along with others from interstate and beyond. We hope to see you there.
Last month we welcomed members and fourth and final year optometry students to our annual careers expo, members turned out for our annual Optometry Giving Sight Golf Day and we continued to assist members each day through phone and email enquiries. We are always just a phone call or email away and love to answer your questions – and hear your ideas. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Association has just finished a very interesting session on social media and how it might fit into the communications plan for the organisation across the country.
Now being the good little dinosaur that I am, I view social media as something akin to an electronic form of a witch’s cauldron – something people gather around to see what comes out when you stir it.
However, my colleagues have convinced me that this is not necessarily the case – and with so many of our less-age-challenged members being avid (addicted?) users, we need to embrace it.
Of course the other aspect pointed out to me is the possibility for individual practices to build their business via Facebook, Twitter and the like. One of our colleagues, Andrew Adel of Warriewood, Sydney, uses Facebook very effectively to enhance his communications with his patients. Andrew Hogan of Tasmania, who hosted the OAA session on social media, is a similarly avid fan of Facebook for his practice.
Both contend that the medium offers unrivalled opportunities to improve the frequency and targeting of patient communication, which of course can only be good for business.
So, if your practice is looking for a better way to keep in touch with those ever more mobile patients, maybe Facebook and Twitter are worth a look. Sorry, I won’t see you there, my social media allergy just won’t go away!
A Courier Mail article published earlier this year highlighted once again the long-standing Queensland Health issue of excessively long public hospital waiting lists and their impact on patients in need of care.
A Brisbane pensioner Merv McLean, who has waited 15 years for cataract surgery, was quoted in the article. After such a long wait, he received a letter urging him to have the surgery done privately. After we read this, we (the OAA QLD/NT Division) contacted the Courier Mail, who published a follow up article the next day on the serious issue of public hospital waiting lists.
The OAA QLD/NT Vice President David Foresto and Director Russell Cooper were both quoted in the article. David reinforced the need for a review of public hospital waiting lists and urged the state government to take action to resolve the issue immediately. Russell commented on his experience in relation to Queensland’s largest public hospital turning away hundreds of patients requiring cataract surgery, which further supporting Dave’s comment for a review.
Additionally, Dave was interviewed by radio announcer Gary Hardgrave on 4BC Drive on the matter. Dave again highlighted the need for a review of public hospital waiting lists and reinforced the need for cataract patients to visit their optometrists on a regular basis (at least every two years). He highlighted the fact that regular visits ensure optometrists have an opportunity to reassess a patient’s condition, determine whether or not their symptoms had changed and allocate a different level of urgency if required. He also explained the varying degrees of cataracts that result in different associated costs.
The issue of patient waiting lists is a high priority for the OAA QLD/NT Division. Efforts are continuing with relevant stakeholders to improve referral pathways and ease the pressure on existing waiting lists in the interest of ensuring improved patient care and better eye health for all Australians.
Australian Vision Convention (13–15 April)
The Australian Vision Convention is on from Friday 13 April to Sunday 15 April on the Gold Coast.
Due to popular demand, Essilor and Alcon Vision Care will provide more dual stream plenary sessions at AVC 2012. Delegates can elect to attend one of two contrasting plenary sessions on Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and Sunday morning.
AVC 2012 offers many of the benefits of past meetings – a low AUD$725 registration fee, one of Australia’s largest optometric exhibitions, thousands of dollars in Passport prizes, Essilor’s fantastic cocktail party, Alcon Vision Care’s exciting Gala Dinner to be held at Seaworld, breakfast sessions and a complimentary crèche.
Last minute registrations are still available – so contact us today on (AUS) 07 3839 4411, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.optometrists.asn.au/queensland
North Queensland Vision (8–10 June)
Our North Queensland Vision 2012 conference will be held from 8 to 10 June at the Hilton Hotel, Cairns. Due to its popularity, Saturday night’s Gala Dinner will again be held at the Rainforest Station Nature Park in Kuranda. With a day trip to Green Island on the Sunday also included in the registration fee, delegates are sure to enjoy some well earned relaxation in addition to the educational component of the event.
For more information contact us on (AUS) 07 3839 4411 or visit www.optometrists.asn.au/queensland
The establishment of a new optometry schools in Australia, and the Doctorate course at Melbourne University, have provided a plethora of choices for students who are interested in a career in optometry. Over the next few years competition among graduates for work in practices located in the country’s major cities will no doubt intensify. To find employment, graduates will need to consider practising outside the traditional east coast capital cities and into areas such as in regional Australia or travel interstate.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy promoting opportunities to practice in WA. Along with Andrew McKinnon, the CEO of OAA NSW and Lara Foster the OAA NSW President, we were fortunate to speak to the 2012 group of 45 students at the University of New South Wales in early March.
Our presentations to the students described the purpose and value of OAA membership (especially to recent graduates) and provided an update on how the profession is looking at the moment in terms of employment opportunities generally both within and outside of Sydney. Together our message was simple – we encouraged students to consider their future as optometrists and think about the possibility of moving to regional Australia or interstate.
Lara spoke to students about her positive experiences practising and bringing up a young family in regional NSW, highlighting the lifestyle advantages, lower cost of living and exposure to different and interesting patient conditions that they are likely to encounter. All these elements make for a total work/life experience that ultimately shape and decide the level of satisfaction one can achieve based on where they are located.
Additionally, we challenged each graduate to see what they are truly capable of both professionally or personally. By moving out of your comfort zones and seeing what’s on offer outside of your immediate backyard you can learn about what you are capable of and how self sufficient you can be. Moving ‘away from home’ should be seen as a fantastic opportunity and a potentially extremely rewarding part of your development.
Back in the office, the WA Division has been looking closely at our strategic direction for the next 12 to 36 months. The Board has finalised some exciting initiatives for our WA members including tools to help practices self market and promote as well as new marketing and communication programs and initiatives for members to be able to use.
Finally, we’re also looking at the potential to use social media both privately and professionally by members. Younger generations of optometrists have already embraced the power of social media and we, as an Association, want to help all of our members get involved. As a part of the program at WAVE 2012, we’ll be running Social Media Workshops to help our members understand, use and maximise the potential of social media on both a business and professional level. It’s already shaping up to be one of the highlights of the WAVE program and one that’s going to create a lot of interest and healthy discussion. Remember, WAVE 2012 is 11–12 August.
The European Eyewear Australian Low Vision Seminar will launch the first full day’s program of the eighth Tasmanian Lifestyle Congress (TLC) at the Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel in Hobart this year.
The keynote speaker for this seminar will be Prof. Robert Greer, Chief of Low Vision Services, Berkeley School of Optometry, University of California. Prof. Greer regularly speaks at international events and is a prolific author. He was a key speaker at the World Low Vision Conference held in Kuala Lumpur last year.
European Eyewear Manager, Graham Sheil, who will also be speaking at the seminar, said his company is delighted to sponsor this year’s Low Vision Seminar and that Prof. Greer will be presenting. Mr Sheil’s comments have been endorsed by Andrew Maver, Chair of the Optometrists Association of Australia Tasmanian Division’s Low Vision Sub-Committee.
Speakers confirmed for the main TLC program this year include Dr. Abi Tenen, Dr. Jacqueline Beltz, Dr. Nitin Verma, Daryl Guest, Ken Thomas, Michael Knipe, Tim Powell and Joe Tanner. In response to requests from previous delegates, a number of case studies will be presented. TLC VIII will provide 28 CPD points, which may be enhanced to 40 with assessment. Delegates undertaking assessment of all therapeutic lectures will satisfy their re-registration requirement of 20 therapeutic points.
Details, including the registration form are available for downloading from the Association’s website: www.optometrists.asn.au/tasmania
Shared CPD Events
During February and March the Association combined with the Tasmanian Branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia to conduct a series of Glaucoma Update CPD lectures in the State’s three regions. According to the Tasmanian OAA president, Karen Garner, the seminars not only provided an excellent networking opportunity but were attended by nearly half of the Tasmanian OAA membership.
The Tasmanian Division will again promote eye health and safety as well as conduct free vision screening at AGFEST, Tasmania’s largest rural event next month. The need for regular eye tests is reinforced during the free screenings which include visual acuity, colour vision, amsler grid, tonometry, retinal photography and this year an OCT as well as eye safety demonstrations and promotion. Tasmanian president Karen Garner strongly supports the promotion and said that through activities like this, the Association is gradually getting the message of regular eye examinations across to the general public.
East Timor Eye Project
Over the past year the Association has been selling premium Tasmanian Sauvignon Blanc wine to raise funds for equipment to support the East Timor Eye Project. A pallet of 64 dozen wines has now been sold raising AUD$5,000 for equipment purchase.
Tasmanian Optometry Foundation Scholarships
The Tasmanian Optometry Foundation is once again providing financial assistance to promote excellence in Optometry in Tasmania and to encourage continuing professional development. Financial assistance may be given to registered Optometrists working in Tasmania, Tasmanian students undertaking Optometric Studies or Tasmanians undertaking research in Optometry. This is the second year the scholarships have been offered. Last year three awards were made: to support Tasmanian student Marion Doherty complete her final year of Optometry studies at the University of Melbourne, to enable optometrist Tim Powell to undertake research into vision and eye care in residential aged care facilities, and to enable optometrist Daryl Guest to travel to America to study the assessment and removal of lid lesions and the current methods of corneal scraping and sampling to aid diagnosis of corneal ulcers and growths.
Details and application forms are now available for downloading from the Association’s website. Applications close on 30 June.