Optometry NSW/ACT is calling for final year optometry students and optometrists in their first 10 years of practice to join its inaugural early career optometrist (ECO) committee.
The aim of the committee is to address the needs of 500 plus early career optometrists (ECOs) who are members of the NSW/ACT Association. Emulating ECO committees established by other Optometry Australia state divisions, the committee will consist of eight ECOs from a range of backgrounds, including corporate, independent, academia, students, and the not for profit sector. The committee will be independently responsible for engaging with members via CPD activities, social events and other activities which they will be free to determine.
We strongly believe our ECOs not only represent the future of the optometry profession but should be actively involved in informing our policy – their voices need to be heard
Audrey Molloy, Strategic Communications and Member Liaison with Optometry NSW/ACT said the needs of early career optometrists are distinctly different from their older colleagues.
“They have a different set of challenges to contend with, from finding jobs, understanding contracts, getting the best salary they can, finding mentors, and connecting with peers,” said Ms Molloy.
“While some of the corporates offer much in terms of mentoring, HR and even social engagement, there are many early career members employed by independent optometrists who often don’t have access to these essential resources.”
Collaboration With YO to Continue
This is not the first time Optometry NSW/ACT has specifically worked to support the needs of its younger members. Six years ago, the Association commenced a collaboration with the then newly formed independent group, Young Optometrists (YO). Despite its success, Ms Molloy said it was clear that there was more Optometry NSW/ACT could be doing for young optometry professionals.
“The decision to set up an ECO committee came about having looked closely at the Association’s membership distribution.
“We realised that while one third of our 1,581 members are early career optometrists, only a small portion of them were actually members of YO – the overlap was less than we had thought.”
“We strongly believe our ECOs not only represent the future of the optometry profession but should be actively involved in informing our policy – their voices need to be heard.”
She said O NSW/ACT’s relationship with YO remains strong.
“In considering how to proceed, one of the first conversations we had was with YO, which has supported optometrists at the start of their careers for several years now. Their passionate and dedicated executive were absolutely our first choice to form the backbone of our new committee and we engaged in lengthy talks with them. In the end, YO preferred to retain their independence and although we were disappointed, we completely respect that decision and remain optimistic that the two organisations, which share so many goals for the profession, may have the opportunity to combine forces at some stage in the future.
“We also intend to continue our close relationship with YO and collaborate on CPD events, student engagement etc.,” she said. “2019 will be an exciting year of change and progression for Optometry!”
Rose Huang, Chair of YO echoed Ms Molloy’s sentiments.
“After lengthy discussions, we have decided to remain independent for now as we believe, at this stage, this autonomy will help us further our mission: to support optometrists and students by providing a dynamic and progressive environment to advance the profession,” said Ms Huang.
“We’d like to focus our attention towards our students members, new graduates and optometrists within the first 10 years of practice at this stage – and are looking towards expanding our reach to not only Sydney but ACT and regional areas this year. A percentage of our members are regionally based and we hope to better service them, along with our metro members in the future.”
Ms Huang said YO congratulated O NSW/ACT on its achievements in 2019 and wished the Association well as it launches the ECO committee.
“As a team, we look forward to working together with them, as our long-term goals still remain similar. As Audrey stated, we will still work very closely and continue to strengthen our relationship with OA NSW/ACT.”
Structure and Strategy
The new ECO central committee will comprise eight volunteer members who will play a major role in determining the strategy for engaging with early career members. There will also be an opportunity for other early career optometrists to be involved on a more ad-hoc basis, in particular projects of interest.
“This is a great opportunity for ECOs to shape the future of optometry and to develop their skills as future leaders in the sector,” said Ms Molloy. “I encourage anyone who is a current member of Optometry NSW/ACT and who is interested in volunteering to submit expressions of interest before the closing date of 22 February. While the inaugural committee will be appointed by O NSW/ACT executive, subsequent committees will be elected by their fellow ECOs within a democratic process.”
To express interest before 22 February.
Interested? Upload your details to Google Forms https://goo.gl/forms/z3tEJH5Ym3QkPBZK2.
Email your cover letter, resume and head shot photograph to [email protected]
Questions? PM the Association via its Facebook page, SMS Audrey Molloy on (AUS) 0414 386 824 or email [email protected]