Virtual Outreach continues to help students in the Pacific

23 September 2021

On Friday September 8, Specsavers, in partnership with The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, held the second virtual outreach session as part of a three-month series of virtual education sessions to students studying the Postgraduate Diploma of Eye Care at the Divine World University in Papua New Guinea, and the Fiji University in Fiji. The diploma course provides nurses and health extension officers training specifically to provide eye care in Pacific conditions.

Although in the past, optometrists have provided training and clinical supervision in person, these sessions have become virtual to ensure the students continue to learn from a wide range of Optometrists and Year 2 Graduate Optometrists, who present interesting case studies, talk through patient presentation, diagnostic tools, diagnosis and treatment.

Year 2 Graduate Optometrists Richard Cheng, from Specsavers Nowra Stockland, and Ivy Kol, from Specsavers Dapto, presented in the second webinar of the series to students in Papua New Guinea.

Richard presented a case study of a patient that was an asymptomatic young male whom he had suspected of having retinitis pigmentosa.

“I presented this case because it’s one that had many challenges, mostly notably around communication with the patient,” Richard said. “I thought this was a great case study to share with the students as there were challenges to optimise the patient’s understanding and therefore their compliance with further investigations with other health professionals.”

Sharing his knowledge and experience with the students was something Richard found very rewarding.

“In cases like these, there is always something to take away from the experience, whether it’s something clinical, or how to interact with the patient, such as communication. It provides a great opportunity to reflect through feedback in discussion and improve your clinical practice, which helps with any similar experiences you may have in the future.”

Ivy also found this experience rewarding, explaining how the opportunity is a great way to share what she has learnt in the context of real-world situations, while also challenging her to develop existing presentation skills.

“The virtual outreach is a great program for optometrists and students to learn from each other and to discuss interesting cases. I personally found it a valuable experience.”

Ivy presented a case study of a female patient who had a large myopic change in her prescription due to undiagnosed diabetes and cataracts.

“The virtual outreach was a great experience; the students were receptive and inquisitive which made for a really constructive discussion, which was enjoyable.”

Both Richard and Ivy felt fortunate to participate and engage with those in the optometry profession in a different capacity. Both highly recommend the outreach program to other optometrists as an opportunity to give back, as well as  refine your knowledge.

The virtual outreach series continues Friday September 24, with a webinar from Rowena Fuller and Nihaama Narayananan, both from Specsavers Ballarat.