1) Describe yourself in one sentence
Originally from Sydney, I am an outgoing university student in my final semester of a Bachelor Biomedical Science / Pre-Medicine Certificate at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, Western Australia.
2) What attracted you to reach out to Glaucoma Australia as a volunteer?
I love volunteering for health purposes because I am able to help people whilst applying all that I have learnt. The emotional reward is greater than any financial gain. As a health and science student aspiring to get into medicine one day, I am especially keen in areas that are medical or health related. I am a big believer in preventative health so if I am able to take part and help someone stay on top of their appointments, this may indirectly optimise a patient's prognosis and enhance their treatment experience. Furthermore, as I am studying interstate and often travel, I love the convenience of volunteering with Glaucoma Australia. As long as I have my phone, I can volunteer anywhere!
3) How has your experience been so far with being a Volunteer Educator at Glaucoma Australia?
Incredible. I get to converse with patients and for me this is an invaluable opportunity, as it enables me to experience what it is like engaging with real patients. Most patients are so grateful for my calls and their appreciation is what makes it such a touching job.
4) Can you tell us a bit about of any calls or conversations with our patients that have stood out to you so far?
Yes. There are two phone calls in particular which resonate with me. The first was with a man who had been diagnosed with glaucoma and was referred to see an ophthalmologist but who had not made his appointment. It turned out that he had not made the appointment as he could not afford it. He was extremely worried. He was so grateful for the phone call and it gave him real hope. I passed him onto our orthoptist educators to get in contact with him to discuss his appointment and perhaps treatment/finance options. Ultimately, this phone call reminded me that access to health care is so imperative and that not everyone has the same opportunity. Furthermore, I once had a patient who lived in rural Queensland who had to travel 4 hours south to get to her nearest ophthalmologist. She had not made her specialist appointment yet as she did not know how to use the internet and could not get the number of this centre that she was referred to. Therefore, within 1 minute, I found the place and their number and she was able to make her appointment. The one phone call could have potentially determined whether this patient saw an ophthalmologist or not.
5) Would you recommend your colleagues or other healthcare professionals volunteer as an educator with Glaucoma Australia? If so, why?
Yes absolutely. As a soon-to-be biomedical scientist, I have the capacity to use my biomedical knowledge and apply it in real life. For people with a medical / science background, it is much easier for us to learn about new diseases. As we have the advantage of being familiar with medical terminology, we have an upper hand when it comes to volunteering in a health setting and I think health professionals should make the most of their expertise if they are wanting to make a difference.