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HomemiprofessionIn Pursuit of Learning

In Pursuit of Learning

Elena Macris has always had a love of learning. Now she’s sharing that passion with colleagues as a member of the OVSA CPD committee planning O=MEGA21.

My decision to study optometry started back in year 10 science when I learnt about the convergence and divergence of light. I enjoyed learning about optics and became fascinated with how something as simple as concave and convex lenses could help someone to see. From that moment on, at age 15, I knew that I wanted to become an optometrist. After finishing high school, I was accepted into the Flinders University Optometry course in 2012.

I saw great value in joining the Early Careers Optometry group… it provides a fantastic support network and a means to discuss cases, ideas and reflect…

While studying optometry at Flinders University, I quickly discovered that concave and convex lens correction was just a small fraction of the profession’s work. There was a large emphasis on evidence-based learning and ocular health, which is fundamental to providing the best patient care and outcomes. After graduation, I began my career as an optometrist for Optical Superstore. In 2018, I was able to further develop as an optometrist when Flinders University offered me part-time work as a clinical skills supervisor teaching third and fourth year students, and supervising Masters students in the University clinic. Working part-time at the university allowed me to remain current with practise and interact and mentor the next generation of clinicians.

As a student at Flinders, I was involved during debrief week, where students would present and discuss challenging and interesting cases from placement. This turned out to be extremely beneficial for sharpening my diagnostic and communication skills. Consequently, I saw great value in joining the Early Careers Optometry group (ECO) as a graduate. I am grateful that a group like ECO exists because it provides a fantastic support network and a means to discuss cases, ideas and reflect on how similar cases can have different management options. It also allows clinicians to identify learning gaps, broaden their knowledge, and improve clinical judgement, which ultimately enables better practise and optimal patient outcomes.

In 2019, I was asked by my state manager to join the CPD committee for Optometry South Australia, now Optometry Victoria South Australia (OVSA), to contribute the perspective of an early career optometrist. Given the way optometry has evolved in recent times, such as therapeutic management, and greater focus on evidence-based practice, I was eager to do so. The OVSA CPD committee also allowed me to interact with new colleagues from interstate, gain contacts with colleagues I would not have otherwise met, and be involved with the organisation and running of important events like O=MEGA21.

Conversations for the O=MEGA21 conference began in mid-2020 during the peak of the COVID-19 boom. During this time, we started approaching speakers and decision making on potential conference topics such as myopia control, therapeutics and cultural safety.

O=MEGA21 will have many interesting and insightful sessions that will really benefit younger optometrists. Because of some international travel restrictions we’re not bringing across international speakers this year, but we’re delighted to be able to showcase the best that Australia has to offer with a diverse, evidence-based and clinicallyrelevant program. For example, there will be a stream dedicated to paediatrics which can often be daunting for optometrists early in their career. We’re really pleased that Anne Webber, Rod Baker and Tim Fricke will deliver paediatrics content, while other high calibre speakers including David Forresto, Allison McKendrick and Alex Gentle will speak on themes including therapeutics, myopia, anterior eye, and neuro-optometry. The conference will offer up to 22.5 hours of CPD (with assessment) based on the new OBA requirements. This will include up to five interactive hours and a stream dedicated to therapeutic hours. Interactive breakout sessions during the clinical conference will foster a community amongst colleagues to cultivate effective support networks and attitudes of best practice in the profession.

The multi-day, dual-stream conference format provides a methodical approach to help optometrists meet their learning objectives as part of the CPD learning plan requirements. In turn, this translates to selfreflection and self-awareness, for providing better patient outcomes and forging a clear career path as a practising clinician.

Tickets are now available. Visit: omega21.com.au

Elena Macris graduated in optometry from Flinders University in 2016. She practises as an optometrist with Optical Superstore and is a member of the OVSA CPD committee.