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Meet the YO Team: Crystal Dang

7 Mar 2024 10:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Ever wonder what it's like to be in the Young Optometrists Committee and what each role entails?  If you are, here is one of our new segments where we introduce to you a member of our committee and showcase their career path, passion projects, as well as what they do in YO. 

Our first interview is with our new Education Officer, Crystal Dang

Hey Crystal, please tell us a bit about yourself! 

I graduated from UNSW in 2021 and have since been practicing at a full-scope independent optometry practice in Cabramatta. My strongest interest is ocular disease and therapeutics. I have always been passionate towards helping people and optometry has allowed me to become a primary practitioner that can provide healthcare to the community for so much pathology in terms of ocular pathology and systemic associations. 

Please tell us what your role is in YO and what the role entails.

I was an education subcommittee member but have recently been appointed YO education  officer. This new role involves organising and coordinating educational events for YO members. I work with the rest of the education subcommittee to contact ophthalmologists and optometrists who would be interested in providing a talk in one of their specialty areas that we think will be interesting to our members. We discuss all the details of where, when, what the presentation would be about and the objectives of the talk have been organised. Once that has been figured out, it becomes more admin-related and involves a process of applying for CPD hours, creating an event on the YO website and liaising with our social media and publications committee to design our graphics and promote the event. Finally, on the day of the event I work with the committee members to host the event and ensure its smooth-sailing and enjoyable to all of YOu.

What made you join YO as a committee member in the first place and what do you like about your role now?

I joined YO as a committee member in the first place because in my final year of university YO was really involved and supportive to us with dedicated events for students like the therapeutic study session in preparation for therapeutic oral exams and the bootcamp that gave me good pointers prior starting my first day of my new career. Essentially there were so many things unknown to us just coming into the profession and I felt at ease that there was a group willing to be there for us as students and early in our career. It drove me to get involved and see what I could do to support other students and early career optometrists because we all would have shared that similar experience. Now I feel like my role enables to me play an active role in planning and engaging in the educational events and it pushes myself out of my comfort to be more extroverted and network with other optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Outside of optometry, what other hobbies do you have? (ie. hobbies, side hustles, interesting trips you've done etc)

After a long day at work, I enjoy nothing more than winding d

own in bed bingeing TV shows and anime. I also enjoy going on hikes, walking my dog, casual skateboarding around the neighbourhood and snowboarding. 

I also really enjoy travelling, and last year November 2023 I got the opportunity to go to Nepal with Eyes4Everest. This was an incredible adventure and trekking to Everest Base Camp was always a dream on my bucket list. With the Eyes4Everest team I trekked from Lukla up to 5364m elevation to reach Everest Base Camp. It was physically and mentally challenging, but the friends I made on the trip was so supportive and I will never forget all the times we laughed, cheered, cried and yelled at each other each night playing UNO.

Along the way, we stopped by the small villages of Khumjung and Pangboche to provide valuable eyecare to the sherpa people in the Himalayas where accessibility to eyecare is poor, especially for children and elderly in these communities. I was incredibly lucky to be there for the grand opening of the Khunde Hospital Eye Clinic established through the support of Eyes4Everst and the Himalayan Trust Nepal which aims to provide more sustainable eye care to the community presently and in the future. It was very rewarding being able to help the community with spectacles, topical eyedrops for anterior eye conditions and provide referrals for those who had dense cataracts or other posterior pathology. The smiles on their faces and gratitude they showed us for coming to help them was truly eye opening and heart-warming that we are making such a huge difference to their lives.

YO works closely with optometry students and graduates in their first years of the careers. Looking back, any funny stories or memories you had while you were a student or during your first few years out? 

I remember being so done with studying and just wanting to get out of university, but looking back even though we were all sleep deprived, exhausted and stressed from everything I had so much fun with the friends I made and I miss seeing them every day. One of the most memorable things on graduation day was when my research partner and I went to the Optometry building one last time and visited the supervisors, particularly we wanted to see Lily. When we found her, we cheered that we had made it and asked for a photo together. In this photo it was the first time we have ever seen her smile and it was so surprising! A moment we will cherish forever.

Is there anything you wish can change in the optometry profession? Or anything you liked to see us optoms being able to do in the future? 

I feel like the optometry profession should embrace optometrists supporting other optometrists. The only way the optometry profession can improve is if we all work together, ask questions and learn off each other’s skills and experiences to make it stronger and better for one another.

The question of broader scope has been discussed for a while now and I would love to see optometrists advocating more for this change in favour of oral medication prescribing like in New Zealand and the UK, and SLT, LPI and YAG laser capsulotomy as in the USA.

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