Professional Development Day, a new Specsavers Graduate Program initiative, was recently launched to almost 100 Australian and New Zealand graduate optometrists. The inaugural event was held on 11 September 2017 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and was attended by optometrists in their first year of the two-year Specsavers Graduate Program.

The day included four one-hour clinical sessions, which were presented by store partners and Specsavers Australia & New Zealand Support Office staff. The content of these sessions was custom developed to cater to the attendees’ needs; prior to the event, the graduates completed a survey that helped identify clinical areas they were less confident in, which was used as the basis for the speaker program.

Patrick Mac, Optometry Partner at Specsavers Little Collins Street in Victoria, explored the topic of contact lenses, covering how to discuss contact lenses with patients, streamline the fit and aftercare process and troubleshoot common issues. His presentation included preferred lens options for different modalities and advanced lens types such as multifocals and RGPs.

Niall McCormack, Optometry Partner at Specsavers Hastings in New Zealand, talked the graduates through the management of paediatric patients. Niall discussed prescribing for children with myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, amblyopia and strabismus; provided an update on current evidence regarding myopia control and amblyopia; and shared his clinical pearls for testing paediatric patients.

The program included a motivational workshop with Olympic taekwondo gold medallist Lauren Burns

Glaucoma was next on the agenda, with the presentation delivered by Head of Optometry Dr Ben Ashby, who also sits on the council for Glaucoma Australia, the peak glaucoma association in Australia. Ben outlined the current status of glaucoma detection, treatment and management; used clinical photos to demonstrate glaucoma diagnosis and differential diagnosis; and discussed the therapeutic management principles for glaucoma.

The final clinical session comprised two streams: Graduate Optometry Development Manager Sophie Stephan spoke to the Australian graduates about Medicare billing practices, including application to clinical scenarios, while the New Zealand graduates heard from Ayah Hadi, Optometry Partner at Specsavers Botany in Auckland, New Zealand, who talked about effective record-keeping using the Genesys practice management system.

Beyond its clinical focus, Professional Development Day also provided an opportunity for personal development. The last speaker in the program was Lauren Burns, who delivered an entertaining and inspiring speech about how she overcame various challenges to become an Olympic taekwondo gold medallist, with key messages including the importance of self-belief, passion and determination.

Following her speech, Lauren took a more direct approach to sharing her martial arts experience by teaching the graduates a series of taekwondo kicks and punches. With their blood pumping, the graduates were next asked to write down on wooden boards a specific personal goal that they hoped to achieve. Equipped with Lauren’s instructions, each of the graduates proceeded to break their boards with a single palm strike, demonstrating that by concentrating your focus on a goal, you can achieve what might otherwise seem impossible.

To find out more about the Specsavers Graduate Program, email or check out the range of graduate opportunities currently available.