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Optometrists Nisha Sharma (L) with her daughter Aliyah, and Lona Zhang with her daughter Eva

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Professional hubs for optometrists launched in South Australia are a rich source of support for members.

The first Mums and Bubs hub was attended by five optometrist mothers on 26 May. Future hubs will include CPD for the mothers while their babies are cared for at an on-site crèche.

Optometry South Australia chief executive officer Libby Boschen, who instigated the hubs, is delighted with the response and said comment had been overwhelmingly positive.

‘There was a mix of employees working for private and corporate optometrists,’ Ms Boschen said.

‘Most had just started to return to part-time work. They were thrilled to have the opportunity to get together with other working mothers as they found their regular mums and babies groups often just talked about the baby and not professional interests.

‘They wanted to share their baby stories but also the challenges with like-minded professional women about issues such as returning to work and continuing professional development. CPD and brushing up skills was a big issue discussed.’

The group decided to meet on the last Monday of every month at Optometry South Australia’s office in an informal meeting room. Members will spend 30 minutes having coffee and chatting, and then while their children are in a crèche at the office, the women will spend 90 minutes on peer group CPD.

‘The group identified that this was something they wanted to do. This way, they can complete one CPD session a month,’ Ms Boschen said. ‘We are negotiating with Flinders University to deliver some CPD by discussing clinical cases and tutorials.

‘We will also have a contact lens specialist talk about the new types of contact lenses as the members identified that this was an area they needed help in because when they returned to work, there were often many new contact lenses available that they needed to be up to speed with.

‘Another CPD session will cover interpreting an OCT because one optometrist mentioned that an OCT had been installed while she was on maternity leave and she felt she needed a confidence boost in how to use it.’

On 27 May, the Independent Optometrists hub met, with four optometrists attending. Two had been practising at least 15 years but the other two had started just eight months ago. Two were therapeutically endorsed.

‘The older ones found it useful to have fresh eyes looking at issues while the younger ones had the benefit of knowledge and experience from the older ones,’ Ms Boschen said. ‘It was a brilliant meeting. After curry and wine, they did not stop talking.

‘Issues discussed included the changes to their business from the Federal Budget, gossip about reps and suppliers—who supplies these bases and coatings and where they could get better deals—recruiting staff and how to deal with competition.’

The group decided to meet monthly and set topics to discuss. Its next meeting in June was scheduled to discuss how to set their fees, due to changes to the fee cap in the Federal Budget.

It plans to set up an electronic sharing platform or virtual meeting room, where members can log in and contribute information about a topic or take part in a discussion between the face to face meetings.

Both groups have identified fellow optometrists who might like to join, whom Ms Boschen has invited. Each group can have up to 10 members. The South Australia office aims to use the hubs as a catalyst for CPD and let hubs drive their own CPD calendar by organising topics in areas in which they are interested.

‘These professional hubs promote regular informal and confidential discussions about your professional challenges, whether they are clinical dilemmas, people issues, business practice or whatever,’ she said.

‘Two, three or four heads are better than one when it comes to generating ideas and solving problems.

‘The diversity of skills, experience, knowledge and personalities in the melting pot of a professional hub such as this allows each of us to look at our daily challenges with a whole new perspective and in so doing find previously elusive solutions.’

A Locum Optometrists hub was scheduled for 17 June and future hubs include employee optometrists, clinical supervisors, new graduates, and franchisees and partners. For information about joining these or existing hubs email l.boschen@optometrists.asn.au.

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