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Monday / May 20.
HomemioptometryDinosaur . . . or Crocodile?

Dinosaur . . . or Crocodile?

While the future will unquestionably bring change, our inherent adaptability as professionals – and the support of Optometry Australia – are the keys to our survival.

O SA

The first day of May is ‘Loyalty Day’ in the U.S. Very fitting given my column is about loyalty to your chosen profession. Being a pom, I was going to make reference to the British ‘May Day’ celebration (the first day of summer), when we leave gifts on our neighbour’s doorsteps to symbolise safety, wellbeing and community. Again, very fitting given today’s topic – membership of Optometry Australia.

If you’re an optometrist and serious about your profession, it’s appropriate to support your professional body. Displaying your membership demonstrates accountability and provides peace of mind for your patients. Membership of the only professional association that is governed by, and acts for, optometrists will also give you peace of mind. Who is there at the end of the phone for objective, accurate, confidential support if you are investigated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, a health fund, Medicare or a lawyer acting for a patient? Who is there to provide legal advice when your employer tries to replace you when you fall pregnant, or an employee accuses you of unfair dismissal? Optometry Australia is.

So why did crocodiles thrive, while other arguably more significant and intelligent creatures perished

Many optometrists are worried about their future as more graduate. It is the support of our members that allows Optometry Australia to expand optometry markets and ensure the future of your profession by relentlessly lobbying governments to enhance Medicare, expand scope of practice and change legislation.

If you’re not yet a member, I suggest you make May the month to educate yourself about the reasons why over 80% of optometrists choose Optometry Australia membership. You will ask yourself why you didn’t join earlier!

Of course if you choose to remain in the minority (a non-member), another May reference comes to mind: ‘May Day’. This is the internationally recognised cry for help! Pity we won’t be there when you need us!

O NSW/ACT

About 65 million years ago, a meteor smashed into the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, causing a catastrophe which wiped out almost all higher life forms on earth. One notable exception was the crocodile, which has survived, evolved and indeed thrived right up to the present day.

So why did crocodiles thrive, while other arguably more significant and intelligent creatures perished? Theories abound but in summary, crocodiles are regarded as generalists that are well suited to their usual environment, and highly adaptable to whatever is going on around them. When the saltwater environs became too hostile, they retreated to freshwater rivers and streams – yet they maintained their saltwater capability. They adapted.

Sound familiar? Adaptation is the key to survive and thrive.

Optometry hasn’t been around for 200+ million years, but we’ve made a start. On the program at the recent Super Sunday event in Sydney, optometrist Daryl Guest pondered the question, Optometry – brink of extinction or brave new world? 

Daryl made a key observation: AI – supposedly the looming downfall of us all as professionals – isn’t and will probably never be, intuitive. And it is really bad at empathising with people and patients. In short, AI will never be human.

In my view, we shouldn’t be overly anxious about future changes, like AI. Humans tolerate it remarkably well – just look at the last 60 or even 30 years. Technological change has been astonishing. Price competition is now routine. We demand ‘convenience’. But in the end, what matters most is being able to trust, respect and connect with the people we engage with, in business and in life.

So survival message # 1: connect with your patients, be more than a provider of refractions. Give great advice, empathise, form bonds. Be human – no AI can ever do that.