To celebrate the diversity of our teaching, research and professional staff and the undergraduate and postgraduate students at SOVS, for the first time, co-convenors of the Alumni events, from the clinical and research domains, were appointed (Dr Minh Phan and Associate Professor Nicole Carnt).
Dr Minh Phan is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist working with preclinical models for dry eye study (2D and 3D tissue culture models) and patients with dry eye disease. She is an Early Career Researcher (0-8yrs post doc). Associate Professor Nicole Carnt is an optometrist and mid-career researcher with a genetic epidemiology program on contact lens infections, encompassing research students from Nepal, India and Saudi Arabia. Her research in the UK has given her a unique patient centered research perspective combined with laboratory studies.
In April 2021, we were delighted to present, our first online Alumni event on – Evidence based care of the paediatric patient in Australia. This topic aligns with our strong commitment to evidenced based care, led by Associate Professor Isabelle Jalbert in our school and the growing Public Health and Health Systems Research stream led by Head of School Professor Lisa Keay. The expertise in the UNSW Optometry Clinic and contributions from a multidisciplinary panel of clinicians, meant it was a big session but hugely successful.
We were excited to have four distinguished keynote speakers across multiple disciplines: Associate Professor Ann Webber, a primary care Optometrist with special interest in paediatrics, Associate Professor Chyrisse Heine a Speech Pathologist and Audiologist, Ms Danielle Morgan, Deputy Head of Orthoptics at Sydney Eye Hospital and Professor Parth Shah, a Sydney Ophthalmologist with a passion for strabismus surgery and paediatric care. The evening also included a panel discussion led by UNSW Staff Optometrist Paediatric Lead Ms Amanda Lea and a Q&A session where there was an opportunity to ask questions of our presenters.
As we know, care of the paediatric population is a challenging area of optometric practise due to a number of factors. Specialised techniques for assessment, designing and evaluating management plans are part of this challenge. Managing parent and carer expectations adds another area of complexity. Knowing when and how to escalate the patient to ophthalmological care is key. An area of practise not always considered is inter-disciplinary care. A series of pre planning meetings ensured views were presented in a balanced and insightful manner.
We had over 200 registrants, mostly registered optometrists, and included current and former vision science students, masters and doctorate scientists and clinicians as well as professional staff. All presenters and audience were offsite, and we used the UNSW Media Studios to deliver the panel and Q&A session, through a Zoom Webinar. The edited recording was available for three months for registrants on the SOVS YouTube channel.
Our second Alumni event for 2021 was planned to be on ocular surface disease - a major strength of SOVS. However, COVID-19 got in the way and our efforts were diverted to ensure we graduated our optometry and vision science students with as much hands on practice as possible in the latter part of 2021.
We did miss drinks, snacks and socialising in the SOVS Optometry Clinic and so will be planning our next event in 2022 as a hybrid event. We hope to see you there! Stay tuned for 2022!
Associate Professor Nicole Carnt, Optometry Alumni Liaison
Dr Minh Phan, Vision Science Alumni Liaison