Orthoptists are in high demand and the job has plenty of branches... it ticked all the boxes!
I graduated from the Master of Orthoptics at UTS in 2017. Prior to commencing the Orthoptics course, I had completed a Bachelor of Medical Science at UTS. I love camping, brunch and gory medical TV shows and I’m a little bit nerdy, getting way to excited (and boring everyone, I know) about any and all eye facts!
I decided to study Orthoptics because I had always loved the idea of health and medicine and realised that I really loved explaining medical concepts to people. Towards the end of my undergraduate degree in Medical Science, I knew I needed to keep studying to be job ready. I could choose to do honours, and being in a lab wasn’t really exciting me anymore. I also rote-learnt a lot and didn’t feel at all prepared or qualified to leave university and get a job in the field.
I also loved the riddle of diagnosing a person and working out their management. I decided that studying in an allied health industry was the perfect place to continue on my path to a career. I began researching what options were available to study as a post graduate degree and came across Orthoptics. I’d loved studying the eye during HSC Biology, and it turned out that orthoptists were in high demand and the job had plenty of branches for new career paths down the track. It ticked all the boxes!
After already being a student at UTS for four years, I’d seen the beginning of the master plan being built and the introduction of the Graduate School of Health. During my undergraduate degree, we had the opportunity to spend some time in the health facilities with state of the art patient and clinical simulators to learn new skills. I also spent a lot of time in the labs and anatomy classrooms and knew I could expect modern teaching facilities with great staff.
One of the best moments of my course was the first time I was able to confidently perform a full assessment on a child while on clinical placement! I also loved going on interstate placement and EyeBall (our end of year ball), which is a great social event with both students and staff.
The course left me prepared and confident to begin working in the field immediately after graduation. I finished with a degree that is relevant, highly regarded and in demand. This meant that I was able to begin my professional life, get a job straight away and not have issues of unemployment or lack of confidence in my ability to work in the industry.
The course is a lot of hard work! But it is really rewarding. You learn an enormous amount in the two year degree. The course is literally a full time degree and your days will be filled with lectures in the mornings and clinical skills classes in the afternoons. From teh second session onwards, you begin clinical placement where you get to see how it all works in the real world and get to begin to put all your clinical skills together. Assessments are varied from research papers to simulated and real life clinical exams. The practical exams seem really daunting but the teachers put a lot of time into preparing students with trial exams and exam simulations throughout semester. They are the best way to prepare for the real world! The cohort size is intimate and nothing like my undergraduate. You’ll know everyone in your year and be able to form close friendships and support networks.
Not only will you form bonds with your peers, but you’ll get to know all the teaching staff who treat you as future colleagues, ensuring they impart as much wisdom on us as possible. The staff are super approachable and always there for help. The staff work in the industry and with the orthoptic professional bodies so know what is expected of us when we graduate and what is currently happening in clinics.
I’m working in a variety of orthoptic disciplines including pediatrics, neuro, refractive and general ophthalmology. Every day is a little bit different and the patients definitely keep me on my toes. Between helping improve the vision in a child with amblyopia, helping someone manage their double vision, or seeing patient’s faces when they realise their improved vision after cataract surgery, I end my days feeling very rewarded.
I want to keep working across a variety of ophthalmic specialties and continue to learn and contribute to orthoptics. I also hope to go on a volunteer overseas trip one day soon!
My top tips for future students is to absorb everything you can when on clinical placements and try to leave your comfort zone to do patient assessments yourself. It is daunting but really worth it!
A highlight of my time here was going on placement to Queensland where I was immersed in clinic life for three weeks straight. It was the absolute best way to learn.