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WAVE 2015 Building on Strengths

WAVE 2015 in Perth during August was “better than ever” with increased attendance and delegates commenting that there were multiple take home messages communicated at each of the learning sessions. New to WAVE was a dedicated session for recent graduates.

Optometrists old and new from across the country and overseas travelled to the centre of Perth in August for the annual Western Australian Vision Education (WAVE) conference. Renowned for its intimacy, interactive education and high calibre of speakers, this year’s event did not disappoint with Professors Algis J. Vingrys and Fiona Stapleton; Doctors Bang Bui and Peter Herse among the who’s who of eye health taking to the podium.

In a first for optometry in Western Australia, recently graduated optometrists were invited to attend an afternoon of short, sharp lecture presentations on the Friday prior to WAVE formally commencing. The newly formed Optometry Western Australia Graduate Group (OWAGG), comprising optometrists who have graduated within the past three years, was welcomed by Chair Kate Hegarty. The lectures, which were specifically tailored to the needs of young optometrists, covered both clinical and non-clinical topics. Optometrist and Optometry Australia President Kate Gifford; Optometry Australia’s National Professional Services Manager Luke Arundel; Reny Frighetto from Provision and Sasha Sergejew from CR Surfacing spoke on topics ranging from red eye and binocular vision to digital lens surfacing and understanding the FairWork Act. The final presentation, by Dr. Dimitri Yellachich, was on the important topic of referral pathways and the hospital system.

Graduate optometrist Katie Dwyer from SpecialEyes in Perth said Reny Frighetto’s presentation on the Fairwork Act was particularly useful. “Reny’s presentation was really helpful because it was on a topic that we didn’t learn about at university. For example, he outlined what to expect and what to look out for when reviewing a contract for employment. I think students would benefit from a presentation like this as well.”

…the program was in fact one of the best delivered so far for its content and ‘take home’ messages

She said the clinical presentations, which had been tailored to the expertise and experience of recent graduates were also excellent. “The speakers put learnings from university into a more clinical context, so they became more applicable to a practice environment where we are seeing multiple patients across a day.”

Optometry Western Australia CEO Tony Martella said the OWAGG seminar session was enormously successful and most likely to become a regular fixture of the annual WAVE conference.

Additionally, he said, more regular OWAGG events were already being planned.

Mr. Martella said just as OWAGG had impressed attendees, the exit survey following WAVE confirmed that the event had been successful with feedback on attendance, exhibitors and education program all extremely positive and above expectations.

“In particular the education program was especially pleasing based on several comments of delegates as to its content and calibre of speakers, and I thank the OWA Education Committee and, in particular, Hui-Lin Chan as the Education Chair for developing such a balanced program.

“Several Optometry Western Australia members commented that the program was, in fact, one of the best delivered so far for its content and ‘take home’ messages,” said Mr. Martella.

Optometrist Janelle Coates from Eyeswest in Bunbury agreed with their sentiments. “WAVE has a diverse mix of speakers and topics, including optometrists in practice (like most of us in attendance) who are happy as presenters to share their solutions to ‘real world’ clinical issues. I also like how there is a strong bias to current best practice/latest evidence. The information delivered was very relevant and immediately useful. Overall, the conference always feels engaging, with no ‘boring’ bits! We are a very friendly bunch here in WA so it’s always got a great vibe too!”

Collegiality was something that Michael Jones from RJK Optometry in Coffs Harbour particularly noticed. “This was my first visit to WAVE and I found it to be an inspiring experience. Being on the National Board of Optometry Australia I go to a fair few conferences, but the thing that stuck out for me at Wave was the collegiality of everyone, sharing ideas and catching up… the format really allowed for this, I liked the idea of alternating between the workshops and then the lectures.”

Mr. Jones said Dr. Bang Bui’s presentation was especially useful. “There is not a lot that you see at conferences that you haven’t already heard about before through other channels, but I found Dr. Bang Bui’s talk on understanding perfusion pressure in glaucoma a real lightbulb moment and a real clinical pearl.

“I found it to be the most refreshing conference from a format and content perspective that I have been to in ages,” concluded Mr. Jones.

Exhibitor Support Acknowledged

Exhibitors, too, were impressed with WAVE 2015. Graham Lehman from Contact Lens Centre Australia (CLCA), said “WAVE was a brilliant event” that provided ample opportunity to educate delegates about the company’s products.

“I can’t speak highly enough of WAVE. The team makes sure all the exhibitors are included in the event, they get the delegates into the trade hall so that we maximise our time there and Tony (Martella) and the OWA President personally walk around to every exhibitor to thank us for our support…

“This year, ahead of the event, every delegate was sent a brochure about Occulosin Propo, which we were launching at WAVE; and the delegate raffles were drawn as part of the event so that winners and prize donors could meet. It’s these small things that Tony and his team do that make the difference.”

Mr. Martella acknowledged companies like CLCA that chose to not only exhibit but also support WAVE 2015. “I am extremely pleased and gratified. These companies recognise the importance of the WA profession and as such, I encourage our members to support these companies,”
said Mr. Martella.

WAVE 2016 will take place in Perth from 13–14 August 2016.