Optometry Student Experience
31st October 2018
Fifth-year optometry student, Gabrielle Grant-Nilon, completed a four-week outreach placement by participating in Visiting Optometrist Scheme (VOS)-funded optometry clinics earlier this year.
During her placement, Gabrielle joined Brien Holden Vision Institute’s outreach optometry team to support clinics that increase access to eye care in a number of rural and Aboriginal communities including Wellington, Kempsey, Tamworth, Lake Cargelligo and Sydney. Most clinics were provided at Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and some were hosted by schools - a highlight for Gabrielle.
Gabrielle had the opportunity to work with and learn from optometrists who she found to be ‘very passionate and patient focused’, as well as working with regionally-based eye health workers who were ‘very organised, welcoming and efficient’.
The optometry student found each community unique but with one commonality, being the patients' friendly and appreciative nature. Gabrielle observed it was evident that regular eye tests were making an impact for these communities and patients who would otherwise not regularly see an optometrist; which is particularly important for patients with diabetes.
Gabrielle also reflected on the ‘great challenge’ of conducting clinics with limited equipment which allowed her to use skills and techniques that would not usually be tested. The challenging conditions provided a fantastic learning experience for Gabrielle who felt the outreach placement developed her skills and improved her confidence as a health practitioner.
Gabrielle found the outreach placement ‘thoroughly enjoyable and educational’, saying that ‘the program is very well executed and provides access to many regional communities’.