Empathy truly cannot be taught but it can be exercised.
As a clinical educator at Glaucoma Australia, I walk alongside patients of all ages through their diagnosis, the uncertainties following this, and their treatment experience. I motivate them to attend their appointments, adhere to their treatment plans, and even open up to their family members about glaucoma and glaucoma testing. Experiences that enable me to exercise empathy in different ways.
I came to know about Glaucoma Australia after seeing a post on LinkedIn. I was half-way through my first year of university when I fell in love with the anatomy of the eye during my Human Sciences classes. After learning more about this and the intricacies of our vision and the pathologies that come with age, genetics, and other causal factors, I became extremely interested in optometry.
I was looking for opportunities to volunteer with patients when I found Glaucoma Australia's Clinical Educator Volunteer Program, which I was immediately interested in! At the start, I was supported by the wonderful orthoptists, who patiently guided me through my first few screening calls and continue to support me in my role to this day.
I call patients referred to Glaucoma Australia by their optometrists or ophthalmologists, screen them for glaucoma, encourage them to book and attend their specialist appointments, and check-in on how they are progressing with their medication. Lately, I have carried out calls with a few patients that I have supported right from their diagnosis, assisting them through their treatment experience, reassuring them when they feel worried, motivating them to seek help, and sometimes simply listening to them if that is what they need.
Being able to build this relationship with patients has taught me so much. I have learned the importance of applying a case-based approach to every patient, as they each have a different background that has shaped the way they respond to the diagnosis or their treatment journey. I have also learnt the importance of building a relationship with patients based on trust and good communication. I love working closely with patients to support them throughout their journey; from their first anxious phone call to their calls later on as empowered and strong individuals. Seeing their attitudes evolve as they gain more confidence in managing their lives with glaucoma – it’s priceless.
I have an interest in rural health and aspire to specialise in ophthalmology, and volunteering at Glaucoma Australia has played a massive role in cementing this goal for me, and I would definitely recommend this opportunity to others in my field. As you journey alongside patients, their courage, strength and motivation serve as a true inspiration.
Eleasha is currently completing her Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours) in Paediatric Dermatology and hopes to start her medical degree at Notre Dame Fremantle in 2022.
I love working closely with patients to support them throughout their journey; from their first anxious phone call to their calls later on as empowered and strong individuals. Seeing their attitudes evolve as they gain more confidence in managing their lives with glaucoma – it’s priceless...Eleasha