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YO x OPTOMSOC Interview: Justin McNamara

20 Mar 2024 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The beginning of the year marks a new group of students embarking on their final year of optometry, and this also means a new Optomsoc Executive Team. We recently had the chance to catch up with Justin McNamara, President of Optomsoc and ask him some questions about what he's looking forward to this year. 

Hey Justin, for our YO members who don't know, can you introduce yourself and what your main role/s are as Optomsoc President?

Hello everyone, I’m Justin McNamara and I’m the OptomSoc President for 2024. This role is best split up into three main parts. The first involves advocating internally for students and holding roles within the school’s academic and pastoral care subdivisions. Externally, the OptomSoc team create and distribute the sponsorship program. Following emails and meetings, we lock in sponsors and liaise with them throughout the year. The final branch is my team. Final year is tough and requires balance, so I aim to make sure that our tasks are evenly distributed, and we continuously support each other. Our weekly team meetings offer a chance to talk all things OptomSoc as well as check-in on each other’s wellbeing and interesting clinical cases (of course).

What drives your passion for Optometry?

My passion for Optometry is driven by those “wow” moments and patient interaction. Optometrists have the ability to significantly change the way a person sees the world, literally and figuratively. From fitting a scleral lens that provides a patient with better vision than they’ve ever experienced to that +0.25 that gives a presbyope clear vision. I find challenges and problem-solving extremely rewarding. Whilst not always the case, there is often immediate feedback from patients, and they frequently express their gratitude.

Something you discovered about the uni not everyone may know? 

About a year ago, I discovered that UNSW staff have access to “The Lounge” on level 11 of the library. Safe to say that they’re spoilt for views!

What is your go to place for food at uni?

The Coffee Cart (upper campus) or Plume (lower campus) for coffee. My go to lunch spot is either Stellini’s or Roundhouse for its special daily deal. In saying that I’m usually well prepared and bring something from home!

Something others may not know about you: 

I grew up in country NSW before coming to Sydney for high school and university. From a hobby standpoint, I’m currently in the process of building a guitar from scratch (little by little). And as many may know, I’m into running, swimming and cycling. Turns out this is the perfect formula for triathlon so I think one may be on the cards in the near future.

What do you usually do to de-stress?

I find that playing guitar/piano or some form of physical activity helps me to relax. A beach trip can go a long way too. I’ve also come to appreciate daily tasks and their power to help me reset. For example, cooking can be a great way to decompress and use some creative energy, plus you get to enjoy the final product.

What song do you play that instantly lifts your mood?

Uptown Funk is a guaranteed mood lift!

What made you interested in becoming Optomsoc President?

In recent years I’ve developed an interest in taking on leadership roles. I find that it provides a platform to connect, meet others and to have a greater contribution to our community. I also feel that it has resulted in personal growth which I find rewarding. I hope to continue exploring this interest in the professional Optometry space.

Do you have any goals you'd like to achieve as President for this year?

I hope to provide a supporting environment and to promote a sense of community across cohorts. This has both short and long-term benefits as we will all be colleagues facing similar challenges in the near future and beyond. I also hope to provide balanced information to all students about future career options. Fortunately, there’s a lot of people and organisations willing to contribute to this goal!

Best of luck with your final year of Optometry. Is there a particular rotation that you're interested in the most this year?

Thank you! I’m especially looking forward to the Centre for Eye Health rotation! When deciding to pursue Optometry, I wasn’t aware of the scope Optometrists have. Ocular pathology is something I’ve taken a great interest in, so I look forward to working with experienced clinicians in a clinical setting with a variety of pathology. I think I’ll also enjoy the teamwork involved in their collaborative care model.

Is there a subject you're anxious about doing this year?

I can’t say that I’m particularly anxious about any subject. Thanks to all our lecturers and tutors throughout the years, I feel we’ve been given all the tools for success. With that being said, I do need to brush up on my anterior disease and therapeutic knowledge for red eye in October.

Is there anything you'd like to say/thoughts you have for future Justin at the end of this year?

I hope that by the end of this year I can reflect on an enriching experience and be very grateful to have been involved in such a tight-knit community and the opportunities it provided. I hope that I have full confidence in all aspects of clinical Optometry and that I’ve built lasting relationships. By end of year, I also hope I’ve booked time to travel before full-time work begins!

At the moment, do you have any preference with where you'd want to work/what you'd want to do after graduating? 

At the moment I’m keeping an open mind however, I’ve always been interested in independent Optometry. I like the idea of having professional freedom and I would like to pursue further learning in behavioral optometry, advanced contact lenses, and ocular pathology. I think starting out rurally is a great opportunity as it can provide greater scope and variety of cases, plus it would be great knowing that work is a 15-minute drive no matter the time of day.

Young Optometrist closely supports Optomsoc and UNSW Optometry School, and we wish our fifth year friends all the best for this year!

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