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Monday / July 22.
HomeminewsDispensing Graduates Celebrate First Qualification in 30+ Years

Dispensing Graduates Celebrate First Qualification in 30+ Years

Four new graduates from the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing (ACOD) – Christine Cunningham, Michelle Brach, Jackie Drenovac and Krysten Young – have secured their first qualification in up to 40 years. The achievement comes after years in the workforce, starting families, moving countries and personal ups and downs along the way.

Inspired to undertake the course in order to increase the level of support they can provide to both practice and patients, each of the graduates say they are grateful to have the qualification and are excited for the rewards their enhanced knowledge base will reap.

The four of us can confer and help the other dispensers or receptionists that haven’t done this course

From left: Christine Cunningham, Michelle Brach and Jackie Drenovac.

“I only ever did year ten, so I’d never sat an exam in my life. It’s been 40 years since I was at school,” Ms Brach told mivision.

Having “fallen into” optical dispensing through taking up a job as a receptionist at a local practice, Ms Brach said she often felt “out of control not knowing enough and having to always refer to the optometrists as to what lens to use.

“When I got the opportunity to actually do the course, I jumped at it. I wanted to be more self-sufficient and able to help the patient.

“I’m ecstatic about graduating. It just means that I can offer more care to the patients without having to refer to an optometrist. I’ve got the answers myself now.”

Ms Cunningham shares a similar education history – before enrolling at ACOD she hadn’t sat an exam in 40 years.

“I have never achieved anything like this and it makes me feel amazing that I have put in the hard work and achieved so much,” she said.

Ms Cunningham left school at the end of year 11 and transitioned straight into fulltime work. After having her fourth child, and working a job with long hours, she turned her sights to optical dispensing for a welcome change of pace.

Krysten Young.

“Valery and Julia at Eyedentity Carnegie have given me a passion and love for the industry. I have had opportunities to further my career in all areas and they have been very supportive and caring in the process,” said Ms Cunningham.

“I am extremely excited to be going into the new year with a far better understanding of everything. It makes me feel valued and confident in what I do.”

Ms Drenovac’s path to optical dispensing began ten years ago, after she was offered a job at the practice she visited for her regular eye tests.

“I wasn’t really sure about it at first because I thought ‘what do I know about optical dispensing?’ But then I was assured there would be training.”

Close to 40 years before enrolling at ACOD, and while living in the Philippines, Ms Drenovac completed a bachelor’s degree. After moving to Australia, she was intending to enrol in university, however falling pregnant changed this plan.

“Considering all the hurdles, I was able to successfully juggle family, work and study – that’s why I’m really proud.

“Having this qualification now is more beneficial to the patients and to the practice. I’ve got the tools to offer the best eye care solutions, and with more confidence.”

As someone who didn’t enjoy school, jumping back into education after 33 years was something Ms Young told mivision she never imagined herself doing.

“I love my job and I like serving people, and I thought learning more about lenses and dispensing would be a natural next step. But I truthfully didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” she said.

“The practice owner offered an opportunity and I thought why not, I should give it a go.”

Now, as a qualified optical dispenser she says, “I’m working as a team with the optometrists, and adding to it – making the customers feel really empowered because I can give them information they can understand.”

Along with Ms Brach and Ms Drenovac, Ms Young is part of the Winks Eyecare team – based in Bannockburn, Bell Post Hill and Newtown in Victoria – which had four optical dispensers graduate from this year’s cohort.

“The four of us can confer and help the other dispensers or receptionists that haven’t done this course, just to offer that extra care to the patient and back the optometrists up so that their workload is not as high,” said Ms Brach.

Reflecting on the course, Ms Young acknowledged how much the education landscape has changed since her schooling days. “We’re all over 50, and it’s a totally different way of doing things now. I think we’re all really chuffed that we got through it. I don’t think any of us expected to do it at our age,” she said.

“For a couple of old girls we did alright, we’re pretty proud of ourselves.”