Providing a glimpse into the future, Andrew McKinnon shares his four insightful predictions for the year ahead.
1. Super Sunday Will Run In-person
A bold prediction, but one with which we all heartily agree. By 22 May the sun will be shining and all roads will lead to Luna Park for a brilliant return to face-to-face CPD!
Among a stellar cast, our keynote address will be delivered by the Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, Professor Michael Farrell. He will discuss the impact and extent of alcohol and drug addiction in the community and whether optometrists can play a role in assisting their patients to access support services in the community. For full details and registration, visit: www.optometry. org.au/institute-of-excellence/cpd-events/ super-sunday-2022/.
We are a remarkably resilient profession – we need to remember that and celebrate our strengths, not lament our challenges
2. Ransomware Will Proliferate
This is certainly one to watch out for. For those unfamiliar, ransomware is a virus that infects your computer and locks files – the only way you can get access to them is to pay some dodgy character in an overseas tax haven a lot of money.
Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date and that you have backed up your files.
3. Interest Rates Will Increase
You probably don’t need to be Nostradamus to pick this one – with inflationary pressures increasing worldwide, interest rates are very likely to lift. It might be a good time to talk to your lending consultant about whether or not you should consolidate your personal and business finances.
4. Labour Shortages Will Remain
Optometry hasn’t been immune from the problems in the labour market. Although professionals are in about balanced supply, support staff are like hens’ teeth – just ask any practice owner trying to recruit a dispenser.
BOLD PREDICTIONS ASIDE
What can the optometry profession expect in 2022?
Writing specifically for NSW for a moment, it is highly likely that the rules requiring health practice staff to be vaccinated will continue, and it is my expectation that at some point those requirements will move to mandating a booster vaccination. I accept that things change, sometimes by the hour, but I cannot see any indication from the government that these rules will be relaxed any time soon. The message is clear – if you wish to work in health care, you’ll need to be vaccinated or medically exempt.
I noted a general labour shortage earlier in this column, but that isn’t yet translating into notably higher salaries for optometrists. I’ve had quite a number of calls recently from members asking what sort of pay rise they should be asking from their employer. In the contracts I see, salaries are not moving a great deal – maybe 3-5% annually, but that’s about it. The reality is, many practice owners are still doing it tough – just look at the reports on foot traffic in major retail centres – in some cases it is down 60% on this time last year, let alone a normal year! Practice owners can only pay salaries out of profits and until profits return reliably, unfortunately salary adjustments are going to be far from certain.
By and large, optometry has weathered the COVID storm in better shape than a great many other parts of the economy. And we have repeatedly seen that, while business is subject to the same pressures as everyone else in the market, optometry practices bounce back far faster than places in industries not as essential as eye care. We are a remarkably resilient profession – we need to remember that and celebrate our strengths, not lament our challenges.
With my best regards to everyone for a much improved 2022!
Andrew McKinnon is the Chief Executive Officer of Optometry New South Wales / Australian Capital Territory.