It was whilst working on my Master of Orthoptics degree at university that I learnt about Glaucoma Australia’s Clinical Educator volunteer program. I began volunteering in 2019 because of my keen interest in engaging with the community and sharing my knowledge of eye health and glaucoma.
I continue to volunteer for Glaucoma Australia for several reasons; firstly, being a clinician, I believe I have a great privilege of understanding the intricacies of eye diseases like glaucoma. I see it as a duty of any health professional to counsel and extend the knowledge they have gained to those who require it. Secondly, being able to assist the community beyond a clinical setting has provided me with a greater sense of intrinsic satisfaction – enabling for a greater sense of wellbeing to my life.
When I speak to patients on the phone, I come across some who feel like they didn’t have their queries answered during their consultations or at times weren’t comfortable asking certain questions with their eye care professionals. During our calls I can counsel them about the nature of glaucoma, the mechanisms involved, and the treatment process - ensuring any of their questions are answered. As a clinician, my biggest takeaway from these calls is that for patients, a significant barrier of them understanding glaucoma is time.
It’s well known that there are workforce shortages within healthcare, leading to less-than-ideal time being spent with each patient. As such, I occasionally speak to patients who don’t understand why they have been referred, or why they do certain tests when they visit their ophthalmologist. Not because they lacked comprehension, but because there wasn't enough time for them to fully understand their condition or the required tests to assess glaucoma. Being able to spend time with them, answering their queries, and counselling them about glaucoma has been a great privilege of mine.
I currently work full-time as a clinician and have found that most of my time spent volunteering is on the weekends. I see a direct relationship between my volunteering and work. In my full-time job, I generally counsel patients about the nature of glaucoma if they have been referred for it. From my tertiary studies and time spent volunteering for Glaucoma Australia, I have been able to develop a greater holistic understanding of glaucoma and the many ways it can affect an individual.
Volunteering for Glaucoma Australia is a great experience for anyone interested in helping give back to the community. It’s provided me with a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I can extend my help beyond the clinic.
Being able to assist the community beyond a clinical setting has provided me with a greater sense of intrinsic satisfaction – enabling for a greater sense of wellbeing to my life.Bradley