Optometry South Australia president Kurt Larsen and Ruixi Wang
By Ruixi Wang
It’s important for optometry students to know that work will get easier, and your day-to-day processes will become more automatic over time. You will accumulate invaluable clinical experience just by being in practice.
Time management and clinical problem-solving are the two most important things I had to grasp early in my career. As an optometry student, we usually had plenty of time to interact with patients but this is not realistic in the fast-paced work environment.
I have been working full-time at the Australian College of Optometry (ACO) for five months. As a clinical resident, my key responsibility is providing eye-care services to patients in a complex and busy public health setting.
I started with a one-hour consultation for the first month and I am now working to the 40-minute schedule like everyone else in the clinic. It took me a lot of effort and practice to build up efficiency.
In the first few months of my career, I always reflected on my day’s work to think of ways that I could continue providing high-quality eye-care services to patients in a timely manner.
Clinical judgement is important. Initially, it almost feels strange to be without a supervisor checking you as you go and I found it difficult to believe in myself in the beginning.
Now, I am much better at this because I have performed a lot of eye examinations. I really appreciate the guidance from members of the ACO staff who are clinical leaders in optometry. They are very helpful and supportive, and can empathise with my feelings as an early career optometrist.
Clinical Excellence Award
During my five years of optometry study, I put in every effort to achieve and work to the best of my ability, academically as well as clinically. I continually identified learning opportunities while undertaking placements as an optometry student, so I was very honoured to know that my hard work had been recognised with the Flinders University Clinical Excellence Award.
I hope to become a clinician with extensive knowledge and sophisticated clinical skills. Even post-graduation, I am still looking for new learning opportunities and undertaking research in my own time. I am planning to undertake the ACO’s Certificate in Advanced Contact Lenses, because I believe it will be an excellent way to broaden my optometry knowledge and improve my confidence in fitting contact lenses.
It is my hope that I can raise awareness of the optometry profession and assist the public and other health professionals to understand our capabilities and responsibilities as their primary eye-care provider.
It was only after graduation that I realised the extent and scope of optometry practice. Vision impairment is a major public health concern globally but it is still overlooked by the general population.
The different types of specialised services offered by ACO make it a unique place. I have been exposed to challenging ocular diseases and a wide range of patients with complex needs, and I am inspired by the ACO’s diversity of clinical services, such as paediatrics, ocular diseases and contact lens service.
Working as an optometrist is intellectually challenging but it is also stimulating and rewarding. You are confronted with different clinical presentations every day, and need to solve problems with knowledge and appropriate clinical skills.
The most fulfilling moment of my job is when I can offer appropriate treatment after identifying and diagnosing ocular conditions. This ranges from new visual aids to correct refractive error, prescribing topical ophthalmic medications for treatment of eye conditions, and referral to ophthalmology for assessment of more complicated conditions, such as optic disc swelling.
In particular, I enjoy working at the metro clinics of the ACO, which offer patients access to affordable eye-care services closer to home.
At the metro sites, I work with other allied health professionals, such as dentists and physiotherapists. Working at a community-based health-care centre is a new and different experience for me and I really enjoy it.