Bendigo optometrist cares for local and global community

COVID-19 lockdowns leading to pent-up demand has meant that optometrists have never been more in demand to assist the communities that they serve.

But for one Bendigo-based Specsavers optometrist, caring for the eyes of her community wasn’t enough. Emma Ingram recently hosted a one-hour webinar training session, organised by Specsavers and The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, and attended by nurses and health extension officers studying a one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care from Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea.

“Outreach programs are often so exciting and immersive, but it can be difficult to know if it’s the right thing for you. The format of the Zoom outreach meant that I could still have a positive impact on the wider community in Papua New Guinea while keeping my own community safe and working locally,” said Emma.

“The Foundation gave me a very comprehensive brief to work toward which helped me prepare a presentation on two relevant cases I’ve seen. I joined the students for their afternoon tutorial and presented and lead a discussion around these cases and how they might manage them in their own communities. I loved getting to think about what optometry looks like in other countries and how certain eye conditions and concerns may be more prevalent in different areas. I really enjoyed getting to discuss optometry with the students who had such different experiences to my own,” she continued.

Emma said before the opportunity arose she didn’t realise that the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ provides scholarships and training for local eye care providers as well as the hands-on patient-based programs that they’re most famous for.

“I’m thankful to be in a career where I have opportunities to challenge myself and extend my abilities through outreaches like this. To know that I work for a company who partners with organisations such as The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to make a difference in the global community makes me proud.”

Emma’s training session was very well received by the students in Papua New Guinea also. Student Mellonson John said “The Zoom training was really amazing and resourceful. We witnessed two case study presentations by Emma. The presentations were informative and were in line with what we learn at University here. I learnt so many new ideas by participating in the sessions, asking questions and receiving feedback. I was a first timer in attending Zoom meetings so I enjoyed using the technology to see what was happening around the world. I am eager to attend many more Specsavers Zoom meetings hosted by their optometrists in the future.”

The outreach series will take place over six weeks with The Fred Hollows Foundation students in both Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Applications are still open for the Fijian webinars which run from 2-16 October. To apply, click here.

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