My name is Dominique and I am a current fourth year Optometry student here at Flinders University. Recently, I escaped Adelaide’s cold and travelled to the warmer weather of Townsville in North Queensland for my first clinical placement.
I was lucky enough to work at Greenfield’s Optical Centre, the oldest and largest independent optometry clinic in Townsville. During my 6 weeks there, I observed over 200 examinations and conducted around 50 of my very own consultations. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to put things that I have learned in the classroom into practice. It was fantastic to get out there and start performing my very own eye tests and begin my journey as an optometrist. Being able to help people is something that I wanted to do from a very young age.
A highlight of my time in Townsville was an outreach trip to the hospital on Palm Island. After a short 25 minute flight, I found myself immersed in the friendly and welcoming community, where my supervisor and I performed 10 eye examinations together in a single morning. Something that really resonated with me while I was there was the joy that we were able to provide the patient with something as simple as a pair of reading glasses. Something so simple, that most people take for granted, had such an impact on their lives. It felt great to be able to give back to such a resilient and history-rich community.
I also spent a morning at the low vision clinic at Guide Dogs Townsville. It was rewarding being able to provide legally blind patients with magnifiers and electronic aids so that they can continue with their everyday tasks within their homes. The main goal for Optometrists and other allied health professionals working at the Low Vision Centre is to maintain the patient’s independence. Optometrists work together with the patient to determine everyday tasks that they find difficult and come up with solutions as to how to better improve that task for them. This can include improved lighting so that they can recognise faces of family and friends or providing visual aids so that they can watch their grandchild play soccer. The smiles from people being able to read the newspaper again after 5 years is something that I will never forget.
So where to from here? Over the next 12 months, I will complete another 5 placement blocks all around Australia and maybe even Nepal or New York! I hope to venture into more unfamiliar environments and not only grow in a professional setting but a personal one as well. I like to keep an open mind as to what my future holds, and placement is a fantastic way for me to learn and grow in a wide variety of environments, places and specialties. If my next five placements are half as good as this one, I can’t wait for what is to come.