My name is Yeghia Gharibian and I am a new member of the Young Optometrists subcommittee. I graduated from the University of New South Wales in 2020 and have been practicing full-scope optometry ever since, currently working in an independent practice in Northern Sydney. I am passionate about providing quality eye care services to patients and the wider community.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what made you want to be an optometrist?
I decided to pursue optometry as a career because I had a family member in the profession and was exposed to the industry early in my life. In high school, I decided to undertake my work experience at an optometry practice and really enjoyed and appreciated the time spent in clinic face-to-face with patients. Seeing the impact you can have on someone’s life by enabling them to see the world better was a truly unique and rewarding experience and I knew that was career path I wanted to take.
What are you other interests outside of optometry?
Outside of work hours, I spend a lot of time exercising which involves a lot of running, swimming, weightlifting and soccer. Specifically, I have played soccer since I was five years old for the same club and with childhood friends. This year, being an Australian-Armenian, I have the privilege of representing Australia with my club ‘Northern Homenetmen Football Club’ in playing soccer in Armenia. I am very excited for this opportunity and currently training very passionately.
Besides sporting activities, I also try to be an active Australian-Armenian by engaging in various community activities. In 2021, I was a part of the executive committee of the Northern Sydney chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia. In this role, I gained great fulfilment in improving the lives of others via providing educational activities, regularly volunteering and attending fundraising events and meetings.
The activities we have been involved in include “World’s Greatest Shave” for the leukaemia foundation and our group was ranked fifth in Australia for “The Push-Up Challenge” which is a great initiative that raised awareness for mental health. Furthermore, we participated in “Walk4Brain Cancer”, as well as raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide and Artsakh Humanitarian crisis through donating blood via the “Australian Red Cross Lifeblood” initiative.
In my downtime, I enjoy playing board and card games with my family, my favourites being chess, backgammon and UNO.
Tell us about the ACO course you have recently completed and what inspired you to undertake this?
Last year, I completed the ‘ACO Certificate in Public Health and Leadership in Eye Care’ online course. The reason I enrolled in this course was because I wanted to learn how the public health system works and the role that optometrists have in it.
The course helped me learn about different issues faced in the public health system, how to advocate in the profession of optometry and also about different leadership styles based on evidence-based guidance. My biggest takeaway from this course was from the final assignment which challenged us to address an area of concern in the public health system. The topic I chose for my project was to raise awareness about myopia and reducing screen time via facilitating virtual educational activities for local schools that at the time were home-schooling due to the “stay-at-home” protocol and lockdown in Sydney due to COVID. Through completing this assignment, I felt that I was able to really make a positive impact on my community as an eye care professional during a time of uncertainty.
Do you recommend our members do this course? How would it help our members?
Every Optometrist should have a basic understanding of how our health system works. We are not just eye professionals; we are health care professionals. We have a key role as leaders in protecting the safety and improving the health of our communities. Although this course is online, it challenges you to think outside the box and I encourage young optometrists to always be curious and work towards improving health and social outcomes for all.
The link to sign up for the course is https://www.aco.org.au/certificate-in-public-health-optometry/?utm_source=youngoptometrists and the commencement date is 16th May 2022.
Do you have any advice for young optometrists out there who would like to pursue their passion but haven’t quite gotten started?
I think it is important to initially take baby steps outside of your comfort zone because the beginning is always the most difficult part. Currently, I am taking steps towards improving my cooking skills and learning a third language by watching YouTube videos. The process has been challenging, but then again, small progress is better than none.
Do you find it easy to juggle your optometry career and your other passions?
I think it is easy because the other passions help me become a better optometrist as I find time away from optometry helps me be more energized to tackle stressful situations when they occur. It helps you not be fixated on one thing and at the same time helps diversify your skillset and mindset.