Deakin University has welcomed its third cohort of students into the accelerated optometry course.
As part of the University’s first cohort, it was interesting to attend the welcome and to reflect on how far this course and its staff and students have come since inception just three years ago.
I recall attending the inaugural launch day, huddled into a little room with a dozen or so exhibitors, and listened intently to what this industry was all about. A few years on things are very different. For one thing, the event took place in the world class REACH facility, with some 28 companies from all corners of the eye care community represented as exhibitors. Heads of key employer groups were all in attendance and the well-known Geelong Mayor, Darryn Lyons, was the keynote speaker. Other high profile guest speakers were Jason Holland (National Director of Optometry, Optical Superstores), Peter Larsen (Director of Professional Services, Specsavers), Terri Smith (CEO, Optometry Vic), Peter Murphy (State Eyecare Manager, Vic), and of course, last but certainly not least, our own educator, Professor Harrison Weisinger (pictured below) who provided a raft of cycling analogies and jokes which thinly veiled his otherwise serious messages.
It’s not surprising that the welcome day generated such interest and support, given that Deakin’s achievements have been considerable. The course gained accreditation (with 51 conditions) by OCANZ in 2013, celebrated its first graduating class from the Bachelor of Vision Science, and developed the Deakin Clinical Training Facility at the Australian College of Optometry.
it was interesting… to reflect on how far this course and its staff and students have come since inception just three years ago
Vital Roles to Play
Tasked with educating the fresh faces on the nuances of the optometric industry, all speakers provided the audience with an insightful and knowledgeable presentation on their role in the industry. They all demonstrated that, be it their company, organisation, practice, association, board, university course and in the case of Darryn Lyons, the city of Geelong, each of them had a vital role to play in the eye care community.
As a first year on your first day, it can be difficult to understand much about the industry that you are getting yourself into. After the initial inundation of free pens and gift bags, the exhibitors representing all the major players and optical companies were able to introduce themselves to the students and explain a little about how they would be involved in the hopefully long career of many of these future optometrists. From lens company representatives, who are familiar faces in most optometry practices, to contact lens manufacturers, to the support teams of corporate optometry, there was a lot of information to take in and, most importantly, the start of some important new relationships.
As one of the 75 students from that inaugural cohort in 2011, being at this year’s welcome day took me back, and made me even more excited about my future in optometry.
Marc Eskander is a third year optometry student at Deakin University.