Welcome to an entirely new decade. I wonder where and how we’ll all be working 20 years from now…
This is something Optometry Australia has been looking into. In late 2018 the organisation launched an agreed strategy to take the profession towards 2040 and during 2019 it began its work to get there. For this issue we revisited that strategy and checked in with the national organisation to see how far they have progressed.
We also took a deeper dive into two dominant trends – the unfolding promise of artificial intelligence which will improve outcomes in clinical optometry and the increasing feminisation of the workforce.
As we know, there are now more women enrolling to study optometry, and women lead four out of seven optometry schools across Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand 533 out of 926 registered optometrists are women, and in Australia, 3,241 of all 5,871 registered optometrists are women. Interestingly, practice owners are predominantly men (though there are currently no statistics recorded for this).
Having successfully attracted more women into optometry, perhaps now it’s time to increase the focus on how to balance other aspects of the workforce in an effort to deliver more equitable services.
Certainly in Australia and New Zealand, we need to be doing more to boost the numbers of indigenous students into our optometry programs in an effort to increase the leadership and capacity of eye care in community.
We also need to encourage more students from regional and rural Australia to study optometry in an effort to grow services in areas where there is a shortage of eye health care.
Challenging times require innovative approaches to overcome barriers to accessing education and making meaningful contributions to the workplace.
As C.S. Lewis wrote, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
2020 is a good time to get started.
Enjoy the year.