How three Optometrists boosted their careers via online learning

Three practicing optometrists in Hong Kong and Pakistan share why taking the online Master of Clinical Optometry was so valuable.

Optometry is in a period of growth. By 2050 there will be almost 5 billion people with myopia globally and with an ageing population, associated eye diseases are set to be an increasing focus. Keeping up to date with new techniques and knowledge is crucial.

For optometrists Charles Li and Jeff Tang, based in Hong Kong, and Ali Minto, in Pakistan, the Master of Clinical Optometry has been key to strengthening their practice and advancing their careers in line with global developments.

Jeff Tang
Jeff Tang

On a practical level, learning online allowed them to upskill while remaining in work. “I didn’t need to spend a huge sum of money to live in Australia or give up my job”, says Jeff.

As well as joining “a very high-ranking optometry school”, the range of specialisations and flexibility were major draw cards. At different stages of their careers (from two to 30 years in practice), the course could be tailored to their experience, interest and needs.

Recently graduated, Charles was “free to choose the speciality courses” he wanted rather than revise foundational material. After 30 years practicing, Ali could strengthen his skills and build up to new specialisations as he felt comfortable.

“I could select subjects that interested me more, which I do in my daily practice. Then if I completed contact lenses and paediatrics, for example, I’d feel more confident to take the extra retina, glaucoma, and research work.”

Exposure to techniques and clinical experience unique to Australia was another valuable part of the training, providing skills and knowledge that may not be possible to get at home.

Paediatric optometry, for example, is not very popular in Hong Kong. “And perceptual training, is all very new”, says Charles. While Australia’s higher prevalence of keratoconus meant exposure to speciality contact lens cases less common in Hong Kong. “The patient population is different”, says Jeff.

Glaucoma and OCTA (optical coherence tomography angiography) were other key areas Jeff deepened his knowledge in because of both the course material and Australian context.

“I learnt a lot about novel glaucoma investigation because the curriculum explored the topic in depth, exploring investigation methods according to the latest findings. In Hong Kong, it's done in a more conventional way. As for OCTA, it is not yet a widely applied field in Hong Kong.”

In Pakistan, where they’re “doing well in” paediatric management, Ali learned a lot because he saw how it is done in Australia. “The world over, new techniques are very different.”

As an online experience, interactive case studies that “mimic a realistic situations”, engaged cohorts, access to vast, quality resources, and passionate teachers also contributed to the value of the course.

Since completing the course, all three have advanced their careers – Charles and Jeff are part time supervisors at Hong Kong Polytechnic University; Ali is frequently invited to speak at seminars and universities. And, importantly, they’ve enhanced their practices.

Jeff Tang
Charles Li

They have greater confidence, a “broadened scope” of practice, the ability to “diagnose diseases more accurately”, they provide higher quality care.

“Because the course goes into the pathophysiology of some diseases,” says Jeff, who has expanded his practice to vision therapy and perceptual training, “when I meet patients now I understand more and can explain it to them in a better way.”

Ali, who prior to the course was referring out strabismus, glaucoma and all posterior segment patients, is now doing most of the management. “Within the legal frame of what an optometrist can do in Pakistan, I’m able to do a lot more now and believe I am providing better quality services to my patients”.

The Master of Clinical Optometry is open now for registrations.

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