The La Trobe Eye Clinic is partnering with the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Melbourne, to deliver a patient-focused service that also provides students with essential clinical experience.
The partnership was formed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Placements are an accreditation requirement for orthoptists, but opportunities were limited during COVID-19 lockdowns,” says Orthoptics Discipline Lead, Dr Connie Koklanis.
At the same time, waiting lists were growing at the RCH. “We were looking for new service delivery models to help deliver timely, affordable and effective care to our patients,” explains Catherine Lewis, Chief Orthoptist at the RCH.
And so the partnership was born: A co-managed service that optimises outcomes for both patient and student.
All La Trobe Orthoptics students undertake five-week placements in the clinic, helping them to consolidate their knowledge and put theory into practice. Importantly, it is a paediatric placement, offering unique skills development that is vital for many careers, locally and internationally.
“At the clinic, we have the gift of time,” says Orthoptics Clinic Coordinator, Kylie Gran. “Students can investigate extensively and discuss their assessment of the patient.”
Fourth-year Bachelor of Applied Science/Master of Orthoptics student, Jessica Crngarov, completed her placement with the clinic in 2021.
“I honed valuable professional and technical skills, and grew in confidence,” she says. “I learned how to build rapport with patients and their parents or carers, establish a history of the patient in a wholistic context, and administer appropriate tests depending on their age and comprehension.”
“I enjoyed putting my skills into practice,” adds Crngarov. “I finished confident and prepared for my next placement, which was at the RCH.”
“It’s a hugely beneficial partnership to us,” Catherine Lewis says. “We can refer our patients confident that they are receiving high-quality but affordable care.”
“We hope to build on our success and expand the service to more patient cohorts,” says Dr Koklanis.
“By doing so, we can provide more diverse clinical experiences for our students so that they graduate with exceptional, patient-focused skills, and be ready to make a positive difference in our local and global communities.”