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May 2022

I started volunteering with Glaucoma Australia during my third year of medical school at Monash University. I have always had a strong interest in medical education and thoroughly enjoyed learning about ocular diseases during my studies. Hence, volunteering as a Clinical Educator felt like a natural fit for me, as I can apply my knowledge to support glaucoma patients and raise public awareness about this debilitating condition.

Image of Ernest Tay

As a clinical educator, my role primarily involves calling glaucoma patients and supporting them through the different stages of their disease. Each patient is unique and need different forms of support. Some require more information about their diagnosis and treatment, others just want a listening ear. We encourage our patients to comply with their medications and to attend follow-up appointments with ophthalmologists. We also urge patients to inform their family members to get tested, as family members have a higher risk of developing glaucoma too. 

Glaucoma Australia has been extremely supportive of my university schedule and gives me the flexibility to contact patients in my own time. This allows me to really take my time with each patient, which is helpful in identifying and addressing any issues they may have about their glaucoma.

Volunteering with Glaucoma Australia has made me rethink medical education. It is not enough to just know the condition - we need to really consider things from the patient’s perspective and communicate with them in a manner that best suits them. Sometimes having to engage patients over the phone can make this extra challenging, as it is tougher to convey that message without being physically there with patients. However overall, being able to provide support through phone calls has been an incredibly interesting experience for me and I hope that I have been able to help my patients in one way or another.

I would highly recommend this volunteer experience to anyone with a healthcare or ophthalmic background who is open-minded and has a heart to serve. 

Ernest is studying a Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine (BMedSci/MD). He has a special interest in Ophthalmology as it is an incredibly meaningful and fast-developing field. The ability to vastly improve a patient's lived experience through quick, technically challenging interventions greatly appeals to him, and he hopes to have the opportunity to develop this skillset in the future!

Being able to provide support through phone calls has been an incredibly interesting experience for me and I hope that I have been able to help my patients in one way or another.
Ernest