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Ideas shared and debated

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Future of Optometry NSW audience

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By Sarah Pham

 

You’d struggle to find a more diverse group: a 23-year-old recent optometry graduate who is just starting to find her bearings, a 35-year-old who has successfully established his own practice and is well on the way to opening a couple more, and a 68-year-old male who has decided to pass the torch to another trusted individual.

Each will have different priorities and different ideas of what is defined as fun. They are from different generations so how do they relate to each other? What do these individuals have in common? The answer is that they are all passionate about optometry as a career.

It is due to this like-mindedness that there was such a large gathering for the Future of Optometry forum held by Optometry NSW/ACT in the humble suburb of Burwood. This was the golden opportunity for optometrists of all ages to get together and discuss the question that has been sitting in the back of everyone’s mind: where is optometry heading?

After a marvellous introduction to what Optometry Australia does and how the organisation is able to lobby the government in order to progress the profession, attendees were randomly split into groups to discuss the controversial topics that have presented so far.

Topics up for discussion included:

  • With new optometry schools, is there an oversupply of optometrists?
  • What are the changes facing us for independent and corporate optometry?
  • Will specialities in optometry ever be recognised?
  • How do we encourage ophthalmologists and GPs to take part in collaborative eye health care models with optometrists?

Over a delicious three-course meal, things got heated.

To confront the significant dilemmas of each topic, ideas were presented, discussed and disputed. Once a unanimous conclusion was reached by the team, these solutions were shared with the Optometry Australia panel and debated.

From this design, numerous thought-provoking ideas were brought forward, introducing all optometrists present to innovative and creative concepts to take on board. Additionally, we had plenty of opportunity to get our voices heard and play a role in influencing the changes in optometry.

High hopes for the future

What does the future of optometry look like?

In all honesty, I have high hopes for what is to come. We not only learned how to stand up for our patients’ and our rights, the event taught us how to fight for the profession.

During the discussion, we realised it did not matter how old someone was or how much experience someone had. Everyone had an opportunity for their voices to be heard. You just have to find the courage to take the initiative and try new things, speak up, take new concepts on board and adapt to the various ideas presented.

As Andrew Hogan says, it is our job to lead, engage and promote.

Despite the endless problems that are sure to arise, as long as we continue to see the passion and dedication that I saw at the Future of Optometry event, there is nothing to be concerned about because together we are sure to tackle these issues as they come.

This will be the secret to ensuring that we don’t stagnate and enable us to empower optometry as a whole.



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