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Dr Patricia Kiely
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A significant proportion of optometrists working in clinical practice full-time harbour ambitions to own their own practice or partnership, Optometry Australia’s national biennial member survey has revealed.

Optometry Australia’s standards and research adviser Dr Patricia Kiely is analysing responses to the survey that closed on 1 September.

She said early analysis of the latest survey indicated that about 80 per cent of respondents hoped to still be working in clinical practice in five years, although only 40 per cent aimed to be working in clinical practice full-time.

‘Of the respondents who aim to be working in clinical practice for more than 35 hours per week, close to half aim to own their own practice or partnership,’ Dr Kiely said.

A desire for flexible working arrangements was reflected in the survey responses to questions about working hours.

Among the survey respondents who reported not working full-time, the majority were doing so out of personal choice or due to other commitments.

‘The majority of respondents, nearly 70 per cent, are working more than 35 hours per week,’ Dr Kiely said.

She said that gender played a role in the breakdown of working hours among the respondents.

‘Close to 80 per cent of men are working 35 hours or more per week, including 40 per cent who are working 41 hours or more. Nearly 60 per cent of women are working 35 hours or more,’ Dr Kiely said.

Demographic sample

The demographic make-up of the total of 765 respondents is closely aligned with the demographic distribution of all registered optometrists with regard to age and gender.

‘The majority of respondents (92.3 per cent) are in clinical practice; 34.7 per cent work in their own practice, 19.7 per cent work for a corporate practice, and 17.1 per cent are employed by an independent practice,’ Dr Kiely said.

Dr Kiely’s preliminary analysis has shown that optometrists’ clinical interests are wide-ranging, with contact lenses and ocular disease the most common specialities.

‘Overall, around 35 per cent reported a special interest in contact lens practice, close to 30 per cent in ocular disease, close to 20 per cent in paediatrics, 13 per cent in orthokeratology, close to 14 per cent in behavioural optometry, and just below 10 per cent in low vision,’ she said.

‘Nearly five per cent reported having a practice specialisation in another area.’

She said that overall, 44 per cent indicated that they did not have a practice speciality.

‘Further detailed analysis that considers many of these issues—working hours, special interests, aspirations—with respect to age, gender, remoteness and jurisdiction is underway,’ Dr Kiely said.

She will table a report for the Optometry Australia national board when it meets on 21 November.

Dr Kiely had analysed the results of the first of the organisation’s biennial member surveys in 2012.

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