(L-R) Theresa Jnguyenphamhh, Leanne Rochow holding her son Edward, and Karen Hawkes with her daughter Lucy
By Helen Carter
Support and advice from colleagues who are in the same boat is proving invaluable for members of Optometry South Australia’s professional hubs.
Optometry SA established the hubs for young optometrists, independent optometrists or new mothers who are optometrists, to participate in regular, informal, confidential discussions about their professional challenges.
Members give each other support and tips for work and life, and find the groups very beneficial. Each hub is facilitated by an Optometry SA board member.
‘We believe the hubs support our intellectual growth because two or three or four heads are better than one when it comes to generating ideas and solving problems,’ Optometry SA CEO Libby Boschen said.
Ms Boschen started the hubs after seeing the benefits gained by her father, who was in a professional hub for more than 60 years. As a farmer and small-business owner, he met with eight other farmers monthly, with meetings rotating around each other’s farms. After inspecting the crops and livestock, they would toss around ideas over beer and sandwiches.
Members of the Young Optometry Hub are also members of Young Optometry South Australia (YOSA.) YOSA co-ordinator and hub facilitator Luke Higgins said 15 to 20 early career optometrists met monthly on the third Wednesday at the Optometry SA office for a combined social and education gathering.
They must be members of Optometry Australia and have graduated within the past five years. The first hour is spent listening to a speaker and includes CPD points. Members decide the topic. They also discuss cases which are different or challenging.
‘The second hour is social and we talk about issues such as the profession, employment issues, Medicare billing issues, when to refer to different ophthalmologists, staff situations, anything really without fear of it being repeated,’ Mr Higgins said.
‘It’s a bit like Fight Club: what’s brought up in YO Hub stays in YO Hub. It’s great to discuss issues which arise and things in common that can affect young optometrists.’
(L-R) Rachel Holden with her daughter Piper, left, and Aimee Patten’s daughter Mae, and Theresa Jnguyenphamhh holding her son Samuel
Hubs can change to reflect members’ changing needs. The Mums and Bubs Hub started meeting in 2014 at the Optometry SA office when the members’ children were babies. For part of the session the children were in an on-site crèche while their mothers listened to talks and gained CPD.
Now that some of the children are toddlers, the group meets at playgrounds and play cafés so the children can run around. There is no set schedule to the meeting dates as the mothers, who mostly work part-time as optometrists, arrange get-togethers whenever they can.
Aimee Patten, one of the facilitators and the mother of two young children, works part-time at an OPSM practice.
‘The group is great for me to keep in touch with other optometrists because I am the only optometrist at my work. We have become a close group of girls sharing invaluable parenting advice and support out of meeting times, too,’ she said. ‘There are five or six regulars in the group and a few more join us on our private Facebook page.’
The group has discussed maternity leave entitlements, child care, how they feel about going back to work, how supportive their employer is of them returning to part-time work and coping with life in general, life at home and the work-life balance.
‘It’s nice to have a social get-together with similar people who can help shape your ideas. Mums can feel a bit isolated. The group is open to all optometrist parents so dads are welcome too,’ Ms Patten said.
Independent Practice Owners Hub facilitator Kurt Larsen said the hub meets every two months at the Optometry SA office and discusses a broad range of issues ranging from clinical issues to business practice including leasing arrangements, new technology, staff management and goal setting.
‘Last time only four could make it so we just let the conversation go and it worked well because one had just closed their practice, one was selling and one was looking to buy so we talked about that and other things such as whose got the latest version of Optomate and what’s this new contact lens like,’ he said.
‘I get a lot out of it. Meeting with your peers helps ensure you are on the right track. Members in this hub are aged from their 30s to their 60s so you might hear about something and think: that’s a good idea I hadn’t thought of, I think I’ll steal it, or one of the older members might say they had tried that idea five years ago and it didn’t work so you think you’ll give it a miss.’
Rural members participate via Skype.
As Optometry SA president, Mr Larsen said it was good to hear what was going on with members and to pick people’s brains.
For information or to enquire about joining:
Young Optometry Hub, email Luke Higgins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mums and Bubs Hub, email Aimee Patten at email@example.com.
Independent Practice Owners Hub, email Kurt Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also Professional Hubs
A Franchisee Optometry Group has been established by Optometry NSW/ACT, with the agreement of the other state organisations of Optometry Australia, including Optometry SA. The online group aims to unify and provide special support to Optometry Australia members who are franchisees. For information contact Joe Chakman, 02 9712 2199, email@example.com.