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Clinical placement from a student’s perspective


UNSW optometry student Abdul Hamidi


By Patrick Hutchens

For Abdul Hamidi, who lives in Sydney’s inner west and works as an optical assistant for OPSM in Parramatta, the clinical experience he had in regional New South Wales made him recognise the benefits of practising in a country town.

Abdul has just completed his final year of university study at UNSW, including his clinical placement, which he undertook under the supervision of optometrist Robert Webster in Cowra and Orange.

Robert would explain to the patients that Abdul was a final-year optometry student and that he was in the last stages of his training. ‘There weren’t any patients who said “I don’t want to do this”,’ Abdul said, delighted with the warm reception he was given.

His most memorable experience was his first patient, a woman who arrived in the practice after suffering a fall and who noticed her vision had altered.

‘After checking her vision, I found her right eye was 6/6, while the left eye, which previously had also been 6/6, was now legally blind. I quickly alerted Robert and we dilated the patient and saw a huge retinal detachment involving the macula,’ Abdul said.

They contacted Sydney Eye Hospital and made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, who arranged for next-day surgery.

Abdul found that the range of conditions with which patients presented to the practices gave him ample opportunities to develop his skills.

 ‘One person with late-stage glaucoma had been unaware of their condition. They thought that it was just something that happened or that their eyes were deteriorating with age,’ he said.

Because ophthalmological care was not available full-time in Cowra, Abdul saw a range of diseases that he wouldn’t expect to see in a city practice.

These included follow-ups for patients who had had recent cataract surgery, monitoring of severe diabetic retinopathy, retinal artery and vein occlusions, thyroid eye disease and a large number of patients presenting with foreign body and trauma injuries.

Abdul saw inflammatory diseases such as uveitis and also secondary infections, which were mostly due to trauma cases that had failed to present initially.

Abdul believes that to succeed in practice, you have to be adept in using your skills. He says he learned from Robert how to work with children. ‘His experience with kids was really eye-opening. Robert showed me that it could be fun to do an eye test,’ he said.

Having finished his examinations just days before speaking with Optometry Australia, Abdul was busy applying for jobs, mainly in country areas that hold appeal for him.

‘I’m waiting to hear back,’ he said, eager to launch his career.

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