2023 has seen our Stage 5 students back at the UNSW Optometry Clinic, conducting consultations on patients in both General Clinic and Specialty Clinics. As part of their final year training, Stage 5 students are attending various placements including those outside of metropolitan Sydney, regional and interstate.
Whilst our stage 5 students were not able to travel internationally this year for their preceptorship, we welcomed final year student colleagues from Hong Kong, France, USA, and Taiwan to attend their clinical placement at the UNSW Optometry Clinic. International Grand Round sessions were held with our colleagues from Hong Kong, USA and Uganda. Despite not being able to travel overseas, these international collaborations allowed our students to interact with international peers and learn various models of optometry practise around the world.
Our Stage 4 students joined the UNSW Optometry Clinic in May 2023 and were a welcome addition. Students engaged directly with patients for the first time as clinicians and performed outstandingly. Stage 4 students screened children in the Vision Education Centre and Stewart House as well as consulted in general Primary Care Clinics. During 2023, Stage 4 students saw almost double the number of patients compared with previous years. Students attended tutorials and Grand Round sessions and engaged with their peers in breaking down and understanding complex optometric cases. These sessions, with the support of clinic staff, helped develop a strong foundation in the students' clinical skills and experience.
Introduced over COVID, the UNSW Optometry Clinic has continued to increase the vertical integration of teaching across the preclinical and clinical years of the Master of Clinical Optometry course. This has been a highly effective change as we have seen a smoother transition into the consulting room and faster upskilling of the Master’s students.
During the year the UNSW Optometry Clinic was fortunate to purchase some equipment to aid their teaching and research.
The purchase of the Zeiss imaging suite has facilitated effective management, student learning and streamlined patient flow. We have increased the capacity in the Dry Eye Clinic, under Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton AO and A/Prof Maria Markoulli’s leadership. As a result, students have seen the full spectrum of Dry Eye Disease, have been using therapeutics and providing access to therapies such as autologous serum and scleral contact lenses. It is key to note that Scientia Professor Stapleton AO is leading a collaboration with Professor Pedram Hamrah, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston in a study to better understand neuropathic pain in Dry Eye Disease which is being run through the teaching clinic.
During 2023 we had a change in management in the UNSW Optometry Clinic. Dr Kathleen Watt was selected for a prestigious one-year NEXUS Teaching Fellowship which focusses on teaching innovations for the School. In her absence, Scientia A/Prof Nicole Carnt has been Acting as the Director of Clinical Teaching and Practice Manager Katariina Pakarinen, an Optometrist from Finland, has been managing patient flow in the clinic.
This year we celebrated over five decades of service this year with our friends from Stewart House. Stewart House is a charity that provides respite care to children who need a break from their current circumstances. During their stay children are provided with optical, dental, hearing as well as a medical screening and treatment. We are fortunate to have Lecturer Androniki Delaveris who has led this program on behalf of SOVS for the past 12 years. Read more here about our longstanding affiliation and how impactful this placement is for our student experience.
As a wrap up for 2023, we are delighted to inform alumni that our outstanding UNSW Optometry Clinic staff were acknowledged with awards and grants throughout the year.
We congratulate Senior Lecturer Lily Ho who has been accepted into UNSW's Leadership Excellence and Development Program (LEAD). “This program aims to support UNSW academic and professional staff by equipping them with the skills to develop their leadership effectiveness and advance their careers."
Lily was also awarded an Optometry Australia LOOK Scholarship for 2024. This scholarship will enable Lily to travel to the US to undertake a course on surgical and laser training.
This year our UNSW Optometry Clinic staff were successful in receiving education focussed grants. We congratulate Ms Nikki Delaveris, Dr Revathy Mani, Ms Lisa Feng, Dr Vanessa Honson, Ms Rebecca Dang and Ms Amanda Lea who each received a grant to assist with range of opportunities including conference attendance, mentorship and professional development.
We also acknowledge our Clinic Staff who were recognised with UNSW and SOVS staff awards:
Ms Amanda Lea, Honourable Mention for a UNSW Exemplary Teaching Practice Award
Ms Katariina Pakarinen, SOVS Social Engagement Award
Dr Wilson Luu, SOVS Student Experience Award