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Premkumar Gunasekaran

Master of Orthoptics

I recently graduated with a Masters of Orthoptics at the end of 2016. I came to UTS from a cell pathology and physiology background, having completed my Bachelor of Medical Science at the University of Sydney in 2014. I enjoy sports, all-you-can-eat buffets, and Domino’s Cheaper Tuesdays.  

I decided to study Orthoptics because I knew I needed to supplement my Bachelor of Science with a speciality. As any science graduate can relate to, there isn’t much you can do without some form of postgraduate study. So, I was getting towards the end of my undergraduate degree and had absolutely no idea where my life was headed. My grades weren’t very good, my stress levels were high and I went into a sort of student-life crisis. I remember jumping onto the UAC guide online and reading through every single postgraduate course in the science and health fields. Upon researching the course, the UTS Master of Orthoptics caught my eye as it was very clinically-focused with lots of patient interaction and opportunities for research, all of which I had always been really interested in. A couple of months later I received an email from UTS inviting me in for an interview for the Orthoptics degree, and things rolled on from there.

I chose UTS because I had heard a lot of great things about the student culture and facilities here, so it was a no-brainer in pursuing my education at this university. Hearing about the Graduate School of Health was a little different. The faculty was still quite new when I applied for Orthoptics, so I only really found out about it once I got accepted into the course.   

The course has been full of rewarding moments. One of the most interesting was accurately measuring a child’s squint 20 minutes before her surgery or learning how to expertly instil an eye drop without making the child cry.

I’ve absolutely changed and developed throughout my studies.  I have become more enthusiastic and motivated to learn, and that’s probably because, for the first time, I was actually interested in what I was learning. I really enjoyed the way I was taught at UTS and how everything just fit together in the end, sort of like a jigsaw puzzle.

The assessments are very evidence-based and clinically orientated. Whether it involves critically analysing real case scenarios, performing orthoptic skills, or demonstrating clinical experience, everything examined is relevant to tasks performed routinely as an orthoptist.

The staff at UTS are extremely friendly. Whenever I’ve needed help, the orthoptic academics were always so approachable and could answer any questions.

I’m currently doing my PhD in orthoptics, looking at the effects of concussion on the visual and oculomotor systems, which gels well with my love for sports. It’s been an amazing few months so far having the opportunity to test some legends of Australian rugby, including Super Rugby and internationally capped players. I am involved in their concussion detection and management, and monitor their safe return-to-play. I also work casually as an orthoptist, which lets me sharpen my clinical skills and keeps me up-to-date with the profession.    

My plan for the future is to complete my PhD without developing a severe coffee addiction! In the short-term, I aim to improve concussion testing in Australian sport by implementing eye-based tools on the sideline. Hopefully this means free season passes! After my PhD, I hope to continue working on my research and involvement in sport. It is a very fascinating area and I really enjoy the interaction with players and medical staff. I would also like to be involved both academically and clinically, inspiring the next generation of orthoptists.

My top tips for future students: the first is do not eat hot chips before an afternoon class – you get so sleepy and won’t be able to concentrate at all. Secondly, and on a more serious note, make the most of your final years at university. Get involved with your student club, enjoy the company of your classmates and give 100% to everything you do.

A highlight of my time here was being involved with the UTS Student Orthoptics Society. I was privileged to be the President in both 2015 and 2016. It was a wonderful experience working with an amazing team, organising events within the cohort and in collaboration with other GSH disciplines. One of my key memories was how spectacular our final end of year ball was. I hope future cohorts continue to build a fun and friendly student culture.   

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"Whenever I’ve needed help, the orthoptic academics were always so approachable and could answer any questions."