By Jeff Megahan
When Simon Hanna addressed Melbourne optometry students today, he told them that there is more to practising optometry than purely clinical skills.
‘The main thing that I wanted the students to walk away from the presentation with was the knowledge that yes, your clinical skills are vital, but there is much more to be aware of in terms of your patients and your professional conduct,’ he said. ‘Back when I graduated, we had to figure this out as we went along.’
Simon is Optometry Australia’s national clinical policy adviser. He joined a distinguished group of speakers at the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Optometry Student Conference on 23 September. Now in its third year, the ODSC is a unique fixture on the conference calendar because it is convened solely by students for students.
Joining Simon on stage for his presentation were Pete Haydon, CEO of Optometry Victoria, and Katrina Yap, a committee member of Young Optometrists Victoria. They outlined the benefits and value of being a member of Optometry Australia.
The two-day event was open to students from all four years of the university’s course. Since its inception, the conference has gained a reputation as a comfortable place to explore a broad range of topics presented by an array of health-care experts.
Simon’s motivation for his talk came from his desire to broaden the students’ perspective by discussing matters that are related to the professional practice of optometry but stand outside clinical abilities. ‘Of course, right now, it’s all about honing your clinical skills. I know that as you get closer to graduation, it’s good to be introduced to some wider practical issues that you will inevitably encounter,’ he told the students.
Simon covered the variety of career opportunities available for optometrists, and the different avenues of special interest that exist as an extension of general practice, such as paediatric optometry, contact lenses and low vision. Other areas he touched on were domiciliary care, veteran service and working collaboratively with ophthalmologists.
He also highlighted the work that Optometry Australia is doing for the profession and practising optometrists.
‘It was important for me to share this information,’ Simon said. ‘Students are immersed in their studies so without a visit from an Optometry Australia representative, they might not know about the important advocacy work that Optometry Australia is doing or the membership benefits including high-quality professional indemnity insurance and continuing professional education.
‘I was glad to get the chance to paint a more complete picture of what they could expect and to remind them that although the field of optometry is wide open, they are not alone.’
Simon Hanna with a student at ODSC 2016