Comments from our Australian Optometry Associations
OAA Vic:Terri Smith
Doctors doctors doctors. An ongoing project for us in the Victorian OAA office is to promote the important role that optometrists play in primary eye care to GPs. It is a message we raise regularly in health profession forums, with Ministers and State health departments and with the Medical teaching schools.
Over time we have made some inroads in getting the message across to doctors so that many are now aware that when they see a patient with an eye problem the appropriate referral is most often to an optometrist. While this seems obvious from where we sit, too often optometrists are not the first point of referral by doctors for their patients with eye health problems.
We will keep chipping away at this important task, endeavouring to ensure that GPs better understand optometry and that patients are referred appropriately.
We will keep chipping away at this important task, endeavouring to ensure that GPs better understand optometry…
The OAA VIC has welcomed changes to the referral guidelines for patients to the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear hospital. The guidelines require GPs to think twice before referring directly to the Eye and Ear. The referral information required in the new guidelines mean that GPs will often need to refer to an optometrist rather than directly to the hospital. This is a great outcome for patients but also for getting across our message to GPs that optometrists are an important link in the referral chain.
Introduce Yourself to Your Local GPs
We still encourage optometrists to make contact with their local GP’s. We hear great stories in the Vic Division office from members who have successfully created strong links with local GPs by simply letting them know you’re there. The GPs generally appreciate the contact, and the care you can offer their patients. GPs tell us they want to be kept in the loop about patient care. Acting in a spirit of respect for the professional skills and circumstances of GPs, yet offering your own expertise as support, can also go a long way in reassuring GPs of your intent to work collaboratively. Providing reports and copies of any on-referrals to a patient’s GP helps them further understand and trust the optometry role. Writing to GPs to introduce yourself and your practice can be an easy way to make yourself known.
Last year members in the northern suburbs of Melbourne hosted medical students as part of their ophthalmology placements at the Austin Hospital. This was a great opportunity to make sure these future doctors understood all that optometry has to offer. We hope to offer the program again this year.
Later this year one of our members will present to a conference of the 1300 medical students at the University of Melbourne – a fabulous opportunity to promote optometry. At SRC this month Dr. Cathy Hutton will present her view on how GPs and optometrists can work together for the best possible patient care.
Vision Initiative for Effective Patient Pathways
The division has been working collaboratively with the Vision Initiative on a project that aims to promote effective patient pathways. This is a further effort to improve referral for eye health problems. It will be trialled in four municipalities – greater Geelong, greater Shepparton, Latrobe and Darebi.
We are in regular contact with Medicare Locals across the state and know that some members are now participating in Medicare Local activities. The Medicare Locals provide a great opportunity for professional engagement with a range of health practitioners.
We have plenty of resources on our website to help members approach GPs. Just look for the Operation GP tab or contact our office for more information.
Meanwhile, I am always interested to hear from members who have successfully engaged with local GPs. Give me a call (AUS) 03 9652 9100 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
OAA NSW: Andrew McKinnon
In the way things just happen sometimes, I’ve recently had quite a bit to do with a variety of members who are either looking to sell their practices, wanting assistance with practice changes or are looking at career changes and seeking some counsel about their options.
In all cases, the thing that struck me was how uncertain these members felt and how they were trying, through various mechanisms, to get some stability back into their horizons.
Although we had very different conversations, the thing I tried to convey to all of them was that in every case success is still well within everyone’s reach in optometry – but you will need to be a bit more strategic about how you seek that success than may have been the case in the past.
We all know that our collective market is changing – there are more graduates coming, the two big players in the market continue to consolidate their positions and the broad economy, despite improving slowly, is still a long way from returning to its boom years.
Yet in spite of this, we know that some practices have seen record growth this year – some of it quite astounding. And we also know that in some cases salaries paid to employees have been very strong – much more so than I would have expected. So what enables some people to power ahead while many around them remain sluggish?
Excellence and Attitude
The people I’ve spoken to who are really achieving are all very upbeat, absolutely passionate about their profession, accept or offer nothing but the highest standards and consistently try to improve what they are offering. And the practice owners in this category all spend time working ON their business as well as IN their business.
As with many things, ‘it’s all in the mind’ – believe in yourself and what you can achieve and, in most cases, the rest will follow.
OAA Qld/NT: Cristy Ross
As we gear up for yet another wonderful Australian Vision Convention (AVC) on the Gold Coast, we would like to take the opportunity to ask why you attend our conferences.
What is it about an Optometrists Association Australia conference that keeps you coming back year after year, whether it be on the east coast or the west, in the north or in the south? What is it about OAA conferences that keep you coming back for more?
What is it that you look for when selecting your CPD event of choice? A great location, interactive sessions, a range of social activities and events, new technologies, opportunities for engagement with speakers, fellow members, leaders in the equipment and services industry? What is it that you simply cannot do without?
Why do we want to know you ask? Because the OAA is your professional Association. We exist for you and because of you, so we need to know how we can better meet your expectations. We need to understand how we can continue to meet your conferencing needs as we plan your next experience. Your opinions, comments, thoughts and ideas are important to us.
The next time you get the opportunity to complete an OAA event feedback form, survey, questionnaire or the like, ask yourself “What do I want to get out of my next association event?”… “What would I like to experience as a delegate?”
Then please, take the time to provide your feedback and propose new ideas for the future.
AVC: 25 – 27 April
Your next opportunity to shape the future of CPD delivery is AVC on the Gold Coast in April.
This year, the AVC Education Committee has embraced the ANZAC day long weekend by commemorating Friday 25 April with the Bausch & Lomb brunch beginning at 10.45am, followed by an afternoon of lectures. This will allow for delegates and their families to partake in one of the iconic Gold Coast dawn services.
The 2014 clinical program incorporates a fantastic array of lecture topics to suit all practice types and delivers up to 51 CPD points. As with previous years, your registration includes complimentary optional online assessment, a gala dinner ticket for full delegates and complimentary child minding.
As an AVC gala dinner first, delegates will be transported into a vintage circus spectacular, under the AVC big top. As the doors open delegates will enter a world of childhood dreams, with a breathtaking circus themed environment where imaginations will be aroused by a riotous mix of colour, movement and musical mayhem. Delegates will enjoy fantastic live entertainment, spectacular theming, delicious food and excellent company, all within the magnificent Jupiters Hotel. This is a night not to miss.
OAA QLD/NT President David Foresto invites optometrists from across Australia, New Zealand and beyond to experience what will no doubt be a rewarding AVC from 25 – 27 April. Register now by visiting www.etouches.com/avc2014 to secure your spot today. Alternatively, registration enquiries can be directed to Crystal via email email@example.com or phone (AUS) 07 3839 4411.
OAA SA: Libby Boschen
To continue my navel-gazing theme of last month’s column, I have just spent three glorious weeks soaking up the sun on a beach in Norfolk Island. No phone, no internet, no emails but plenty of time to think. I was continuing my consideration of my professional career and the features that contribute to my
performing at my very best. Last month I pointed out the opportunities presented by the informal pow-wows with professional colleagues. Since then I have identified the stretching of my own professional ‘ability’ as another key feature of when I am professionally ‘razor sharp’.
Unlike optometrists and many other professionals, as a career “manager” there is no legislative requirement for me to complete a minimum level of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each year. As a consequence, what I do complete, I do for myself (and by default my current or future employers).
This fact, coupled with my human resource management background, leads me to approach my CPD planning in a very strategic way. This is quite a different approach to some members who scrabble for their points at the end of each year just to ensure they meet OBA registration requirements. Given that as an optometrist you have to invest time and money into CPD to meet OBA requirements, I encourage you to make it count for you and to consider approaching your CPD in 2014 in the same way I do.
Bear in mind that ‘making it count for you’ comes in many guises. If you are employed, you will be thinking about career prospects and employability in an increasingly competitive market. If you are a practice owner, you will be considering the needs of your business and local opportunities in addition to your own personal aspirations. Whatever role you have in the practice (optical dispensing, optometry or practice management) the same principles apply and will in theory result in a greater likelihood of you looking back over your working life with a smile in preference to a grimace.
Furthermore, I’m not suggesting you should move. This approach will also ensure you can perform your current role to the best of your ability and stretch yourself into new and exciting areas, all of which help us get out of bed each morning! Even if personal or work scenarios prevent even the slightest of job enrichment, there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, all of which can make us more ‘able’ and happy at work now and in the future.
Step 1: Identify Where You Are Now
Questions to consider: What are you good at? What qualifications and work experience do you have? What do you love doing? What do you avoid doing and why – do you hate it or just struggle because you don’t feel confident? What opportunities can you see? What’s going on at home that may influence how much you can throw yourself into your career development right now or next year? (A young family does not have to result in a career freeze: you will just need to approach it differently.)
Step 2: Identify Where You Would Like To Be
Make a note of your dreams: what would you like to be doing in one year, three years and five years time? What would you like to be earning and how many hours would you need to work to support the lifestyle you crave? Would you rather be working closer to home? Work different times of the day? Have a different customer base or speciality? Does a spot of research, teaching or voluntary work on the side take your fancy? This may seem fanciful but the reality is if we don’t have dreams and goals, we have no hope of achieving them.
Step 3: Find Out What You Need To Get There
Write a list of what qualifications, additional CPD and experience you may need to get to where you want to be. Talk to people already in those roles or with the specialty you are seeking. Sound out your employer, partner and colleagues.