Not being able to travel due to COVID-19 hasn’t stopped Specsavers Dunedin optometrist Jonathan Albert from making an impact overseas.

Jonathan hosted a one-hour webinar training session last week, attended by nurses and health extension officers studying a one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care from Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea.

The Outreach series, organised by Specsavers and The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, aims to continue the annual training and clinical supervision Outreaches that Specsavers optometrists have participated in since 2011 in a COVID-19-safe format.

In his presentation, Jonathan discussed two case studies – a patient he had looked after with severe allergic keratitus and another with keratoconus.

“It was a lovely experience, and it certainly taught me that there is a lot of work that goes into preparing a presentation. The teacher and class were very warm and welcoming and there was great participation from the class in regard to the questions and discussions we had.

“I love the idea of sharing our experiences and knowledge with others, the ripple effect of it is much larger than what any one person can do. Due to the nature of our clinical work we are restricted by our time and location, so enabling people to help others just makes sense,” said Jonathan.

Divine Word University Education Manager Theresa Gende said the webinar series is the first of its kind for the Papua New Guinea Post Graduate Diploma Eye Care program since its establishment in 2007.

“The students learned a lot and interacted throughout the session even though it was the first-ever webinar many of them had taken part in. The feedback stipulated that it is very beneficial to do these webinars more often; thanks to the emerging technology that has brought closer experts to share knowledge and skills with us. Thanks to Jonathan who did an amazing job.”

Student Helen Melanie Gagole said, “The zoom meeting held on Fridays were great opportunities to extend our learning. I would like to thank The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ and Specsavers for hosting the webinar. It was an eye-opener for me in my field of studying eye care. The case studies were in-line with the topic and study units that were covered, I really appreciate the meeting as a bonus to my study and clinical practicals and daily patients encounter. I would appreciate more webinars in the future to discuss and share clinical difficulties while in the field after my study.”

The Outreach series will take place over six weeks with The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ students in both Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Applications are still open for the Fijian webinars which run from 2-16 October. To apply, click here.