It's almost the best time of the year... Christmas! It's not unusual for patients to bring in gifts, such as chocolates, or a bottle of wine. But, can we accept these gifts? Where do we draw the line?
Consider the following scenarios:*
Realistically accepting small gifts is reasonable, however monetary, large gifts or personal items might be considered unethical. Of note, the Medical Board in Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia writes:
Doctors must be honest and transparent in financial arrangements with patients. Good medical practice involves… not encouraging patients to give, lend or bequeath money or gifts that will benefit you directly or indirectly.
So what happened in the scenarios?
Here's a great article from MDA National if you want to read more.
What to say to your boss when you’re planning on quitting
Firstly consider, do you actually WANT to quit? We all have those bad days at work that make us want to quit, but are you simply acting on anger? Can you discuss the situation with your boss? Have you tried discussing this many times before, and it’s obviously a dead road? Is there anyone else you can talk to in the company who may offer you insight? If you think it’s all a matter of miscommunication and can be salvaged, maybe reconsider quitting.
However, if you’re ready for new adventures and are sure about quitting, what do you do?
How do you deliver the news?
Focus on the positives and what the job has taught you. Let your boss know how appreciative you are for the opportunity, but you are ready to move on. It may not be worthwhile bringing up petty disagreements you may have had.
Read over your contract, most organisations require 2-4 weeks’ notice of leave. Give notice in the form of a resignation letter, emphasizing on the positives and how you have benefitted from your time there and offer to help during the transition. Make sure you detail your end date with them.
Restraint of Trade
Read over your contract, do you have a km radius restraint, and if so for how long?
Do you have a job lined up?
Whilst Optometry is thankfully very flexible, consider having a job lined up. Will you take a break and or holiday in between the jobs? If you are unsure about your next workplace, consider sitting in for a few days first to see if you are the right fit for the practice.
Ask your boss for a reference
It’s wise not to burn bridges before you leave! Ask your boss for a written reference, especially as time moves on it, it may be difficult to get a hold of these references, especially if you need these quickly.
Return Company Property
Return any company property, such as company keys, uniform, intellectual property, company equipment, or car (if you were lucky enough to have one!). Do not take any patient information, although this should not leave the practice in the first place.
Telling patients you’re leaving
Over the years you may have built a very strong bond with your patients. It would be respectful to tell them you are moving on and another optometrist will take over your care. If you are certain patients, such as vision therapy cases, which require your care – consider finishing off their therapy or referring them on so they are able to receive best care.
Our 'Unconventional Optometrist' column is where we chat to optometrists who are a bit out of the ordinary! Do you know anyone who we should feature? Let us know!
Here's this month's Unconventional Optometrist. Sarah Pham is an optometrist who works in metro Sydney and has pursued a side career in Events Planning. Read on for her thoughts on how to keep interested in Optometry and how to follow your passions.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Sarah Le Pham, 2016 UNSW School of Optometry graduate. I predominantly work a mixture of corporate, mobile and independent practices based in Sydney metro.
Since graduation, I’ve been actively involved with the excellent and devoted Young Optometrists (YO) as an executive for 2 years prior to help bridge the gap between the generations of optometrists which has been very rewarding.
At the same time, I’ve looked into various specialties and discovered that all of them were interesting in their own right. OrthoK and myopia control particularly tickled my fancy! I’ve tried to go further and look at different demographics as the care and management require different finesse.
In terms of who I am, words that are commonly used to describe me are compassionate, curious and enthusiastic. I’m constantly on a journey to try different things and have the most fulfilling experiences in life!
Tell us about your typical week at work
Every week has been very different hence there’s no such thing as a typical week for me. This is quite refreshing for me personally however I do understand it may not work for everyone!
In my circumstance, my work is deliberately irregular to give myself an opportunity to explore my other interests (more below).
How do you keep up with the optometry world?
The advantage of optometry being a niche community is that it is not too difficult to keep up. There are CPD events, articles published online and groups (YO, OA etc) that promote discussion.
Being the nerds we all are, even just a regular catch up with the friends you’ve made during university (who have now become your colleagues), talk about developments in optometry come up!
Do you have any goals for your optometry career?
Optometry is constantly changing and consequently, I want to constantly focus on improving my skills and overall care for my patients. My goal is to be a better optometrist than yesterday!
What keeps you sane outside of your work life? Do you have any hobbies or passions you pursue?
Keeping up with my attitude to trying different experiences, I’ve actually looked into various jobs and hobbies outside optometry. As much as I like optometry, I would not stay sane if every breathing second was about optometry!
I’ve pursued a side career in Event planning. Nothing as extravagant as weddings, but I’ve delved into parties and smaller scale events! (Birthdays, hen’s night etc). This is ongoing as there are always projects for me to get in touch with my artsy and creative side where the precise and logical optometry career path may not allow!
For a busy practice, one might find that they spend the entire day sitting in the consultation room (can’t be helped!) but it does not contribute to us achieving our active needs. Hence, I’ve involved myself in playing a team sport (Volleyball) in my free time which has evolved into a passion allowing me to eventually be appointed Captain of the newest and developing rep team.
What advice would you give to other optometrists who also wish to pursue something a little out of the ordinary?
You’ll never really know if you like something or not unless you put yourself out there and try it!
It's easy to get stuck in the bubble of Optometry. What's something that you wish people knew about the industry you work in now?
Yes, it is important to grow as a practitioner and deliver your best care but I personally think it’s equally important to mix things up so that you don’t get burnt out!
As rewarding as Optometry is, I find that there are some aspects that the career simply cannot offer. To really pursue a fulfilling and balanced lifestyle, it’s a good idea to look into things outside of Optometry.
Author: Austin Tang
Mr. Smith who you remember just purchased his $1000 multifocals just a couple of weeks ago comes in and tells you that he just can’t see well out of his right eye… that things just aren’t as crisp and that something’s just not right but he can’t pinpoint it. You vert the glasses and the cyl in each eye has been made correct to the nearest degree: Rx: +1.00/-0.75x66 with a +2.25 Add. Then you go to check the heights and PDs and nothing’s out of line.
Then you remember you actually never saw him; he had brought in his prescription from down the road. You have a closer look at the prescription and its from 6 months ago. Mr Smith says he could see even better out of his previous glasses, so you take those and vert them and see if there’s any difference. The vert reads +1.00/-0.75x 166with an add of +2.25. Axis 166?!
Patients have the right to have their prescriptions dispensed wherever they choose, whether that is where they’ve just had their eyes tested by yourself or whether it’s elsewhere. However, it is often more difficult to resolve any spectacle related problems when prescribing and dispensing are separated. In the case of yourself and Mr Smith, you’ve figured that there well and truly could have been a typo in that outside prescription, but the lenses that you’ve ordered have been made to the prescription that has been presented to you by his optometrist. Or it could have been that his prescription could have changed since his last refraction? You do a quick refraction to get more information and you get +1.00/-0.75x170 and your thoughts on a possible typo heighten.
There are many factors at play in this situation. There can be both prescription and dispensing errors. Difficulties can become more apparent in cases of complicated prescriptions such as those involving high prescriptions, high degrees of astigmatism, prismatic correction, anisometropia and paediatric dispensing. Even aspects such as frame and lens selection could play a large part in a patient’s visual experience.
So who’s responsible in this situation? It can be a grey area. One could argue that the given script was incorrect and it should be the prescriber at fault, since the glasses were made exact to that prescription. However, the prescriber could also argue that they do not take liability of the prescription if it is dispensed elsewhere.
Some strategies to overcome these situations including educating the patient on the potential difficulties of separate prescribing and dispensing, particularly if they have a complicated prescription or lens form. It can also be suitable to include a disclaimer when releasing prescriptions that states that there is no liability taken on the prescription if taken elsewhere. A refraction check could also be carried out prior to dispensing if the prescription is not recent or if the patient feels that there has been a visual change since the last prescription. Simple steps such as trial framing an outside prescription could also help with reducing such situations.
Author: Linda Lam
25% of the population manifests anisocoria as a normal, routine examination finding. The hallmark sign in lesions of the pupillary efferent pathways is anisocoria.
Changing consulting room illumination helps to differentiate between physiological and pathological cases.
Always test both light and near reflexes and test for a relative afferent pupil defect (RAPD). If an RAPD is present it indicates a problem with the optic nerve.
A quick refresher on some differentials to consider when it comes to pupil reaction:
Pupils are quick and easy to assess and should be done routinely. A thorough case history is also vital in determining acute or chronic cases, especially if the patient has had head trauma in the past.
Join us in welcoming Lucia to the Young Optometrists NSW/ACT Subcommittee! Lucia graduated from UNSW in 2012 and has experience in both regional and metropolitan practices. Keep an eye out for her.
Read on for our Q&A with Lucia.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I graduated from UNSW in 2012 and since then I’ve worked in both regional and metropolitan practices, as well as a short stint in London, taking advantage of the Youth Mobility Scheme to work and travel around Europe. I’m currently working part time in Western Sydney due to recently starting a family and deciding to undertake further studies in optometry.
How did you end up in optometry as a career?
Optometry appealed to me because it is a stable and fulfilling job, which allows me to help people by resolving their visual concerns and also work with other healthcare professionals. I’m now also beginning to appreciate the flexibility, good work-life balance and various opportunities in career development.
What are you most passionate about outside of optometry?
I enjoy running as it really helps to clear my mind and relieve stress. I also like it for the way it challenges my mental toughness as ultimately, I choose when to stop. I love watching sports, especially basketball; and spending time outdoors, exploring new places.
What inspired you to join YO as a subcommittee member?
I’ve really enjoyed reading the YO blog posts (Unconventional Optometrist and Real Talk) and have found them to be very informative and relevant. I was then compelled to join YO and assist in furthering the goals of facilitating career development and networking opportunities for young optometrists.
How would you spend your free time?
I’ve started to read a lot more this year, trying to maximize the little “me time” I have outside of looking after a toddler. I also enjoy journaling, travelling and playing board games with my friends.
If you had one superpower, what would it be?
Being able to speak the language of whichever country I find myself in.
My name is Sujan Hong and I am a Korean-Kiwi-American... and soon to become an Australian. I have identity crisis when I have to cheer for sports teams... haha.
What can I tell you about myself?
1. I have 6/6 vision and hadn’t been to an optometrist before studying optometry at university.
2. The primary reason for choosing optometry was because I wanted a respectable degree as a back-up to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.
3. I graduated with a BOptom, University of Auckland and practised in Auckland, New Zealand as an optometrist for a few years before leaving.
4. Music has always been a big part of my life! I never considered music as a career, but I was fortunate enough to have met a very inspiring music teacher during my high school years who helped me to discover my talent and “almost inspired” me to take up music professionally.
5. I have ABRSM, Royal School of Music for Piano Performance and AmusTCL, Trinity College London for Music Theory. Teaching music could also be a backup career if I really want a career change (!) - although I feel a bit rusty now. I also played timpani with various youth and community orchestra.
6. After optometry, I wanted to travel the world and decided to study Computer Programming. I hated Programming, but landed an amazing opportunity to work as a project manager for a software company.
7. Working in a start-up environment was great experience - it means you have to be really flexible and willing to learn something new - all the time.
8. I briefly worked for a Product Development and Design team with Benefit Cosmetics in San Francisco.
9. I was involved with multiple non-profit organisations in San Francisco and also had my own personal social organisations with over 2000 members (between the two groups)
10. I had a brief appearance in The Five-Year Engagement starring Jason Segel, and played “That Korean Girlfriend”.
11. I worked as a relief optometrist around NSW with OPSM for a few years.
12. I currently work as Professional Affairs associate with Alcon. I am loving every minute of my job! Please note that the roles of Professional Affairs and Business Development Manager (AKA BDM or rep) are different, and shouldn’t be confused.
13. I don’t really think I knew such a role (Professional Affairs) existed before joining Alcon – so now I make a point of letting optoms know the roles that we each play in helping you grow as an optometrist and as a business.
How did you become involved in helping in a restaurant? How long have you been at it for? Where can we visit your restaurant?
I am a big foodie. I have eaten at many different places around the world and in my hometown, and I also enjoy cooking (I probably have every imaginable kitchen gadget in my kitchen except for Sous-vide which is next on my list).
I have always been interested in learning something new and helping others, and I ended up helping some friends set up their new restaurant business. The restaurant, Yuzu Dining is located in North Strathfield, which is about 30 mins drive from Sydney CBD.
Tell us about your typical day/week at work
What I love about my job is that there is no typical day / week at work. Even when I was working as a relief optometrist for OPSM in NSW, there was no typical day and week - as I was in a different practice working with different people every day / week.
Currently, my week may look like:
Monday: Presenting - Deliver an educational talk to optometrists about how to manage dry eye patients with Alcon’s range of products.
Tuesday:University - Teaching final year students how to fit multifocal contact lenses easily and successfully.
Wednesday: In office prepping follow-up for Monday’s presentation and university teaching session; respond to key questions from client groups and return emails to stakeholders. Set up key meetings for next week and identify what resources are needed. Book flight to next month’s Optometry conference.
Thursday: Liaise with major conference (on Friday) and finalise Agenda and key speaking points. Send through PPT presentation slides and add in 30 sec video to support presentation. Confirm travel and accommodation for next month’s educational roadshow.
Friday: Major Optometric Conference – Introduce a speaker to educate the attendees on how Alcon’s technologies can be used in everyday optometric practice.
The highlight of my role so far is probably attending the 2019 Asia Pacific Optometric Congress in Manila last month. Seeing the scope of optometry in the APAC region was phenomenal, and optometrists in Australia and New Zealand are so fortunate to be able to practice with such a big scope.
How did you get into this unique area of optometry?
LinkedIn! I was contacted by a recruiter and after several rounds of interviews, got into the business. I wasn’t actively looking for a new opportunity, but sometimes they come knocking at your door. I feel so proud to be working for a company with integrity and huge focus on R&D and feel fortunate to work with so many other smart people and learning something new all the time.
How do you keep up with the optometry world?
Through YOU! I get to meet a lot of optometrists as part of my job. Whilst I may be the one training optometrists, I also learn a lot from the way you all practice. I love being able to share what I learn from different optometrists – such as tips and tricks of the trade – and bringing these back to you so that you can all be the best at what you do. This cycle of listening, participating and sharing back is how I can give back to our society – practising optometry vicariously through you!
In the past, I was fulfilled through providing the best clinical advice and service to each individual patient that I saw. Since working in my new role with Alcon, I’ve realised that I could have been even better as an optometrist had I known even half the things I have learnt since joining the company. Because of this, I’m always eager to share as much as I can with every optometrist I meet and in the future, I’d like to bring together optometrists so we can work together to make the industry stronger. I also wish I could incorporate the scope of optometry in the Asia Pacific region and create stronger alignments with what we do in Australia and New Zealand somehow. Australian optometrists are very fortunate to have Optometry Australia working continuously to keep our industry strong. Some optometrists choose not to become OA members because of cost involved (myself included!) but Tim Grant, who is the Head of Asia Professional Affairs for Alcon and is also like a godfather figure when it comes to silicone hydrogel contact lenses (he was part of the team that launched first ever silicone hydrogel contact lenses in the WORLD with CIBA vision) said something very poignant. He said “We pay forward with our fees to OA. The fees paid by previous members are why we are in a strong clinical position, same for us to pay forward for future development even if we do not receive the benefit.” I couldn’t agree more and was again grateful to work with and to learn from a great leader in the industry. (and I will be joining OA for this reason!)
What keeps you sane outside of your work life? Do you have any hobbies or passions you pursue?
I love to eat! But in order to eat, I have to exercise! One thing I miss due to my travel and work is being able to do a daily workout. I used to cover K-Pop and upload to my personal YouTube channel. I also used to transcribe music for subscribers, so they could play what I play by ear but I don’t really have time to listen to or play piano either. If I had the time, I would love to learn the guitar and the violin (since they are both more portable than a piano!). If I had more time, I would brush up on languages learnt and learn a new language – if I can speak Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and French enough to have a conversation - I would be happy! Other than that, I love all living things and enjoy planting and seeing my compost worms eat and reproduce.
It's easy to get stuck in the bubble of Optometry. What's something that you wish optometrists knew about other industries?
I think for most people, once they get into a certain industry, they stay in it for the long haul for various reasons. Sometimes you may want a career change, but the industry may not be willing to take on someone mature even if you are willing to start from an entry level position. Alternately, it may be hard to let go of what you already have and to start afresh.
I think being a specialist in one industry has its merits - but I think it’s important to know whether you want to be a specialist in that one industry. You may not know until you have had exposure to a wide variety of industries whether your passion lies in that industry, or if in fact you want to be elsewhere. When I started out, I never had the mindset of being in optometry for the long haul, so that’s maybe why I ended up exploring other options.
Following the various experiences I have had and growth in understanding of myself, I’ve identified that my core professional motivation was to work in an industry where I can make a genuine difference in the quality of life of people. To me, this narrowed my focus to the healthcare industry, but I don’t think I would have come to that conclusion if I had stayed in Optometry for 10 years.
From my perspective, if you want to explore other options, put 200% into whatever industry you settle on, and give yourself a decent time period to get invested and explore where you and the industry fit before evaluating whether to stay or go – I recommend this as what you experience and learn within 3 months is very different to what you’re capable of learning over 3 years.
What advice would you give to other optometrists who also wish to pursue this type of optometry?
I think being an optometrist is a wonderful and rewarding career even though it can be disheartening for some with the current direction of the industry. If we continue to provide our patients with what we have signed up for when we started our degrees – that is, providing primary eye care and making a difference in the quality of our patients’ lives with passion and empathy – then we’ll have the impact we seek. I hope over time people will appreciate and see the important role that optometrists play in this society.
Having optometry background also doesn’t limit you to consult rooms either. There are professional affairs / services roles with various optical and medical device companies where your role is to educate other eye care professionals on how to most effectively use their products to provide best eye care. You can also head non-profit organisations such as Eyes4Everest or Glaucoma Australia to provide eye care for people with limited access to such services; and to raise awareness about certain medical conditions that maybe affecting the eye.
Or maybe you can simply go into a totally different industry! What you learn at university is only a foundation for what you need in your life. I think what you truly learn at university is discipline (studying for all those exams) and working with others (teamwork) which form a crucial basis for everything that you do in life.
For anyone wanting to ask any questions about my job(s), or just how to navigate through life as young optometry graduate – you can reach out to me via LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/in/sujanhong.
The Young Optometrists NSW/ACT networking event saw over 130 optometrists, optometry students and key industry professionals gather under one roof at the Doltone House on 13th July 2019.
This event was an invaluable opportunity for individuals within the industry to gain insight into the various facets of the industry, to facilitate discussions and mingle with one another. Optometry students were also given the opportunity to network with key members within the profession for career advice and new opportunities.A final year optometry student commented “I love the idea of the networking night and making it less intimidating for us to talk to older and more experienced optometrists”.
The night opened with an address from Acting Chairperson of Young Optometrists NSW/ACT, Wilson Luu. He explained the event was conceived to break down the silos that occur in the Australian optometric industry and hoped the night would facilitate genuine discussions between all those present.
“ We want to break down the silos that occur in the industry and tonight brings a great opportunity to network amongst our peers” - Wilson Luu, Acting Chairperson of Young Optometrists NSW/ACT
The event attracted optometrists from not only Sydney but also regional NSW and guests from Melbourne. The venue was packed throughout the night with plenty of fruitful conversations and new connections forged. An optometrist attendee commented that they enjoyed “professional engagement with younger year optometrists”.
The Young Optometrists NSW/ACT team with the sponsors of the night. Left to right: Corinne Lam (YO), Sarah Tait (YO), Kelvin Bartholomew (Provision), Megan Tu (YO), Wilson Luu (YO), Joe Tanner (Coopervision), Elizabeth Kodari (Luxottica), Abdul Hamidi (YO), Raj Sundarjee (Specsavers) Jordan Olsen (Specsavers), Celine Zhang (YO)
Young Optometrists NSW/ACT (YO)'s mission is to support recently graduated optometrists and optometry students by providing a dynamic and progressive environment to advance the profession. YO aims to continue doing so by providing further platforms for members of the industry to interact with one another in the future.
Young Optometrists thanks their generous sponsors Coopervision (Platinum Sponsor), Specsavers (Gold Sponsor), Luxottica (Silver Sponsor),and Provision (Silver Sponsor), for making the networking event possible.
Causes of diplopia or double vision can be a challenge for eye care practitioners to diagnose as they can be benign but also can be life and sight threatening. Is the cause of your patient’s diplopia merely uncorrected astigmatism or could it be a sign of a possible brain tumour?
We first need to determine whether the diplopia is monocular or binocular. Generally, if the diplopia goes away when one eye is closed, this means that the patient is experiencing binocular diplopia, whereas if the diplopia persists, this indicates that the patient is experiencing monocular diplopia. In most cases, monocular diplopia does not warrant a neurological evaluation and treatment involves addressing the underlying cause.
Some examples of causes of monocular diplopia include:
There are many different presentations and causes of binocular diplopia and in the worse case scenario, a life or sight threatening cause may be underlying.
Knowing the direction (vertical vs horizontal), onset (sudden vs long standing), and committance (comitant vs non comitant) of the diplopia can guide our clinical diagnosis.
We need to evaluate the motility of the eyes individually and together. Ocular alignment should be evaluated in all gazes and at both distance and near.
Some examples of causes of binocular diplopia include:
Red flags for urgent referral in association with bilateral diplopia include:
The main treatment objective in patients with binocular diplopia is to create the largest, most central area of single binocular vision, however this may not be achievable in all fields of gaze. Patients may adopt an abnormal head position in order to overcome their diplopia.
Conservative approaches to managing binocular diplopia include occlusion of the vision in one eye, vision therapy and refractive correction including the use of prisms. Less conservative options include surgery, in cases where the strabismus is stable.
As millennials, we are exposed to unprecedented quantities of information through the advent of social media and the internet. The internet is full of traps: rich Nigerian princes, being the millionth visitor to a website, hexed downloads, pyramid schemes and the like. The ability to distinguish between true information and misinformation is vital due to the sheer volume of content we are consuming. “Fake news” has become a common term in our vernacular.
Critical thinking is the skillful analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgement. It something we use daily in our clinical decision-making – we relate scientific concepts to clinical application. When we are presented with new information, we have been taught to evaluate its relevance to evidence-based optometric practice.
Critical thinking should also occur outside the safety of our consultation room. Whether it’s navigating a job contract or evaluating a new lens design, diagnostic equipment or clinical procedure, we should always have our critical thinking caps on.
Consider the following...
Be skeptical: Approach what you see and hear rationally and critically. Does the proposal make sense (a distortion-free multifocal anti-scratch, uber thin, unbreakable, feather light lens, anyone?)? Why are they posing this to me? Is it trying to persuade me of a certain viewpoint? Who else are they offering this to?
Is the offer too good to be true?: A salary of $200k a year with full benefits should ring some alarm bells (after the initial “wow!”). Is this a sign that the job is having difficulty retaining applicants due to job conditions? Or do they really value you as an optometrist?
Verbal commitment to actual commitments: You should never walk away from a verbal commitment without solidifying it as a written one. It can be as simple as a quick email saying, “It was great meeting you, thank you for your generous offer of 60% off this product”. It is easy to renege on a verbal agreement as there is no physical evidence to follow through on. ‘Let’s shake on it”, they say. In a week’s time it can become forgotten promises.
Pick your sources: If it seems improbable, do some research. Consider the credibility of the source of the information – is the company/person who is presenting the information have suitable expertise and reputation? Is there more information available to you?
The ability to think critically is the ability to weigh the merits of contrasting arguments.
When you hear something, don’t just take the information at face value. Stop and wonder whether what is posed to you seems correct. Take the time to consider both sides of the story and think critically.