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HomeminewsJudy Glover Scholarship Inspires Students to Bridge Gap in Indigenous Eye Health

Judy Glover Scholarship Inspires Students to Bridge Gap in Indigenous Eye Health

Three final year students of optometry have acquired a potentially life-changing insight into eye health in remote Australia, having participated in an eye health trip to remote Western Australia.

The students from UNSW, Melbourne University and Flinders University in South Australia, were recipients of the Judy Glover Scholarship, now in its fifth year.

Funded by Judy’s Family and the Lions Save Sight Foundation and managed by Optometry Giving Sight, they were there to learn from and assist optometry and ophthalmology teams to deliver eye care to the remote indigenous communities of surrounding Kununurra and Fitzroy Crossing.

Thanks to her family, the scholarship has been running since 2012 as a way to honour the late Judy Glover who was well known for her kindness and passion in providing eye care to remote indigenous communities.

Legacy Lives On

By exposing final year students, Ms. Glover’s family hoped that her legacy would live on in the passion and conviction students develop for the cause when undertaking vision care in remote areas.

All reports suggest that this has been the case for the students from this year’s group. Emily Cranfield of Flinders University described the experience as one that “gave me the opportunity to see a different way of practicing and helped build my confidence.”

Emily Glover from Melbourne University said she had “a fantastic hands-on experience each day and wanted to submerge herself in the placement and the culture of the area.” Additionally, she said the experience had inspired and changed the way she thinks about health care in remote settings and strengthened the concept of engaging with the community and their health.

Tyson Xu of UNSW echoed Emily’s comments. “The major point that I’ve taken away from the trip is the importance of the role that optometrists have in such remote areas. People are walking around with legally blinding pathology (cataracts, refractive error, diabetic retinopathy), which can be better managed and treated by a multidisciplinary eye team of optometrists and ophthalmologists”.

Varied Experiences

Throughout their two week trip, the students were able to consult in Fitzroy Crossing Hospital and were then split up to work in different remote communities in conjunction with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. As an added bonus the Lions Outback Vision Van was in the area during their visit and the three students were able to see the positive impact this new facility brings to eye care delivery in the region.

Dr. John Farmer from Leunig and Farmer Eyecare has been travelling with and mentoring each Scholarship group for the past four years. Having watched the program develop, he says it provides a unique learning experience for selected students, one he feels helps to shape them in to better clinicians. “The experience of being in, and delivering eye care in these communities is invaluable,” he said. “Not only does it broaden their understanding of eye care and the role of the clinician, but also they experience the communities and the needs of rural and remote Australia and the difficulties the people and health professionals face in these locations.”

Optometry Giving Sight received nine applications for the 2017 scholarship, which were described as “excellent” and “humbling to see the level of interest in remote eye care being generated by the program”.

The Judy Glover Scholarship runs in May each year and is available to three final year optometry students with a keen interest in Indigenous eye health and remote optometry. Applications for next year’s scholarship will open up in February 2018.

For further information on the scholarship or to donate please contact [email protected] or call us on 1300 88 10 73