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Optometry can be an isolated job despite close contact with people all day. South Australia Division has launched ‘professional hubs’ for members to meet and chat with like-minded colleagues.

Division CEO Libby Boschen says these regular informal and confidential discussions could see members chatting about professional challenges including clinical dilemmas, people issues or business practice.

‘These get-togethers can support intellectual growth because two, three, or four heads are better than one when it comes to generating ideas and solving problems,’ she said.

‘The diversity of skills, experience, knowledge and personalities in the melting pot of a professional hub allows each to look at their daily challenges with a new perspective and find previously elusive solutions. It is not networking but is a more informal, low-key and nurturing interaction.’

She hopes the monthly meetings will help relieve work-related stress, and enhance work performance and pleasure.

Groups will be limited to 10 members.

The first four hubs were launched in April. The scheduled groups are Mums and bubs, Employees, Franchisees and partners, and Clinical supervisors.

Members can suggest groups they want to see in the future and Ms Boschen says members have offered two further suggestions, Independent practice owners and Locum optometrists, also scheduled for April.

Rural members can join with members in extended rural areas or join hubs via Skype.

‘The Mums and bubs hub is for women on maternity leave or who are back at work and juggling children and career,’ she said.

‘The Employees hub is for those working for a private practice or a corporate optometry provider. These practitioners are faced with the challenges of juggling their needs and aspirations as a health professional and the expectations of their employer in an increasingly challenging market.

‘This is an ideal opportunity to raise concerns and come up with ideas together on how to tackle them.’

Ms Boschen says she regularly receives calls from members in franchisee arrangements that are becoming increasingly challenging when it comes to balancing health-care needs of patients, staff, personal aspirations, and business partner or franchise expectations.

‘This is not about finding fault with either party, but instead aims to make life easier for everyone by providing optometrists with an opportunity to share problems and find solutions among fellow eye-health professionals,’ she said.

‘The Clinical supervisors hub is for the many optometrists who are hosting students from various schools. This can be challenging and hugely rewarding. Getting together with colleagues allows optometrists to discuss the role and help them find out what works and what doesn’t.’

The idea came from Ms Boschen’s father, who was in a professional hub for more than 60 years.

‘As a farmer and small business owner he would meet with eight others once a month, rotating around each other’s farms,’ she said. ‘They would inspect crops and livestock, and then toss around ideas over a beer and ham sandwich.

‘I am also a member of a professional hub of association executives, which meets every two months over breakfast to throw around problems and share ideas, experiences and resources to resolve problems.’

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