2015 – My year in review – by Amanda Griffiths, Founder My Health Career

People often ask me what I’ve been up to in 2015, and I give them this look of “where do I begin?” So if you have had that look from me this year, read on and you will know why……..

As you go through this post, you will notice that sometimes I talk about “we” and sometimes I talk about “I”. That’s because there are some things that I have done in conjunction with collaborators, and sometimes I’m talking about things that I’ve done personally this year. So without further ado….

New resources for the website
  • Career summaries-02Career summary pages – the website has grown organically over time, and so we had a lot of information for people considering a career in health, but it was literally strewn all over the website!! So we put together career summary pages, which are about the best and worse points about a profession, links to course information and pathways infographics, links to videos and articles from practitioners, scholarship information, and details on whether new graduates are getting jobs. Click here to go to the career summary pages.
  • Career pathway infographics – members of the CDAA will probably be aware of what a dynamo Jo Shambler is. As far back as 2011, Jo suggested that I have some pathway information on the website. I procrastinated on this for a long time, as we thought it was just obvious – that prospective students would either just magically know or easily be able to find out about pathway information for a particular career. It turns out that Jo was (of course) right, that people are looking for user-friendly pathway information. Click here to go to our pathway infographics. Oh, and when you see the rough hand-drawn sketches I gave to my graphic designer you will have an appreciation for how brilliant he is. Thanks Carlos!!
  • raining ATARSATAR / OP articles – another thing we had thought about for quite a while was user-friendly information about what the ATAR / OP was for courses in Australia. As we were compiling these, we realized why nobody has done this previously – it took many, many hours!!! Click here for the ATARs / OPs for 14 health courses in Australia. And yes, it actually did “rain” ATARS and OPs on My Health Career for a while there!!

 

Hand drawn draft

Hand drawn draft

Version by graphic designer Carlos

Version by graphic designer Carlos

Groups / committees
  • Health Sector VET Engagement Working Party – In December 2014, I was approached by career development practitioner Julie Rogan to link up with a number of Queensland based Workforce Council learning huborganisations who work in the area of, or have an interest in health industry workforce planning. Julie had identified that there were many government and non-government organisations who were working in their own capacity on this issue, and wanted to bring these parties together to create a more streamlined approach to health workforce planning. I attended a number of meetings at the Health and Community Services Workforce Council in 2015, and while I can’t give too much away at this stage, there may be some co-branded materials coming out in 2016….. I’m hoping to add a lot of Vocational Education and Training (VET) information to the website! Finally!!
  • Gold Coast Health Pathways Alliance – Early in the year, I was invited to be a part of the Gold Coast Health Pathways Alliance steering committee, but had to decline as by that time I knew that I would be away from the Gold Coast a lot from June to October. This is a shame as the Alliance does an excellent job in workforce planning, and in exposing young people to what it’s like to be a health professional. They have been successfully building the health workforce in the professions that most need it in the areas where they have been growing the Alliance since it was started in Ipswich and West Moreton in 2012. It would have been great to be involved.

 

Serial bloggers
Shelley Straw

Shelley Straw

This year we had some “serial bloggers” each of whom wrote a series of blog posts for our website. Many thanks to Melanie McGrice (dietitian), Shelley Straw (nurse), Viet Nguyen (dentist), Rebecca Ray (psychologist) and Brad Winter (nurse). We love guest articles as they offer different perspectives and insights. Here are the links to their articles:

 

Advertisers

This year our main sponsors for the website were Bond University and the UMAT prep course provider the National Institute of Education. It was great to receive support from these organisations and we hope that some of our website followers found their guest articles to be of interest:

Bond University master of nutrition and dietetics

NIE 400 x 100 banner Single frame_shortened

Careers expos

This year we designed business cards for each profession to give out at careers expos. These were very popular! On the back of each was 3 facts about the profession.

Dietetics front

Dietetics back

The careers expos we went to in 2015 were:

  • Princess Alexandra Hospital Allied Health Careers Forum – 28th April
  • MHC expo stand Taree 2015Young Careers Expo – 4th May
  • Forbes Tertiary Information Day – 5th May
  • Western Plains Tertiary Information Day (Dubbo) – 6th May
  • Bathurst FACTS Day – 7th May
  • Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School – 17th June
  • Lismore Secondary Options Expo – 21st July
  • Mid North Coast Secondary Options Expo (Coffs Harbour) – 22nd July
  • Camden Haven Careers Expo – 23rd July
  • Taree / Great Lakes Careers Expo – 24th July
  • Clairvaux Mackillop College – 10th August
  • Varsity College – 12th August
  • All Hallows’ School – 16th September
  • School Industry Partnership Service School Leaver Event – 21st October

 

Other special events

One of the perks of knowing a lot of people in the health industry is that I get invited along to all sorts of events and open days. I try to go to as many of these as I possibly can!

  • HealthFusion Team Challenge – this is one of the highlights of my “My Health Career Name tagcalendar” each year – again in 2015 I was one of the MCs on the day. The Australian finals day brings together students from a number of universities around the country for a dynamic interdisciplinary competition. I love that the HealthFusion Team Challenge is such a hands on day for the students. Here’s my blog post following the 2014 competition.
  • Open Day at an Aged Care Facility – this was another special day in 2015. To get an understanding of how an aged care facility is run, and the services and human touch provided to its residents was truly amazing. I now have a much greater appreciation and so much respect for people working in aged care.
  • UMAT prep workshop – I am well aware that the research says that some UMAT preparation courses do not improve scores, but this year I attended a UMAT prep course run by the National Institute of Education (NIE), who I will openly say have advertised with My Health Career this year. I went along very sceptical of the course’s validity, and came away knowing that if I were going to sit UMAT, where my weaknesses are and what I would need to work on in order to do well on the test. The simulated UMAT at the end of the 1 day workshop I thought was particularly beneficial as it gave students an experience of what the real test would be like. So although I have accepted money from NIE for promoting their course on my website this year, I would not have allowed promotion of them if I didn’t think that they provided courses that were worthwhile.
  • Dietitian Day – back in March this year I volunteered to help out at the public seminar run by Maree Ferguson of Dietitian Connection. There were well over 100 people who came to hear industry superstars such as Joanna McMillan, Sue Shepherd and Glenn Cardwell. It was great to have qualified speakers debunk myths about diets such as paleo and gluten free.
  • TEDx – obviously I’ve watched a number of interesting TED videos online over the years, and was extremely excited to be in the audience at a TEDx event for the first time earlier this year. Some of the speakers were very powerful and I found myself interested in talks on topics that I’ve never really considered to be interesting or important before. I must admit, it was a little disappointing that many of the speakers seemed to be overwhelmed by the fact that they were speaking on a TEDx stage and let their nerves get the better of them. It was a shame, but I think there was some “Imposter Syndrome” at play which got in the way of the delivery of their message. Yep, a little disappointed at a TEDx event? I must be a REALLY hard to please!!

 

My personal experiences as a health professional

My personal optometry highlights for the year were:

  • Recently, I had personal tutorials with one of Australia’s leading contact lens specialist – I was able to learn the ins and outs of fitting mini scleral contact lenses, mainly for patients with keratoconus, and am looking forward to putting this knowledge into practice in 2016
  • Sitting in with a vitreoretinal ophthalmologist and having personal tuition on the interpretation of Optical Coherence Tomography scans – in particular, it was great to see some “before and after” shots on patients he’d done surgery on, and have a look at their eye as well as their scans
  • I went to 2 optometry conferences and 3 continuing professional development nights, and interestingly it was from the lecture of an ophthalmologist I’m not very familiar with that I completely changed my approach to screening for patients who are taking the medication plaquenil – I’d been doing things the old way, and new guidelines came out on this.

Optometry – the mixed bag in 2015:

  • Flying over the Blue Mountains on the way to Dubbo

    Flying over the Blue Mountains on the way to Dubbo

    Locum life – From June to October this year, I did locum placements, each of 1-2 weeks in practices in Kempsey, Dubbo, Gladstone, Taree, Mackay, Launceston and Canberra. I found it difficult to get any sort of rhythm going in these practices, as, even though they were all run by the same parent company, each practice was run in a very different way. What was an important priority in one practice wasn’t even considered in another practice, and so I always found that there was at least a 2-3 day settling in period for each practice. This period in 2015 was also an emotional rollercoaster, as there were some practices where I was welcomed with open arms, treated like a star and offered a permanent job, and there were some practices where they treat locums like a piece of meat (and in some cases this was from day 1 in a practice, so it had nothing to do with me personally, although there was one case though where the practice manager hated my guts and tried to make my life miserable). There were some practices where morale was so low that the regular staff had taken time off due to stress, and regular staff members were reduced to tears when the “big boss” came to visit.

  • Ocular therapeutics – obviously one of the things I do with the website is keep track of how a profession is moving forwards. This year I published an article that hit home for me personally – that 40% of optometrists with general registration were therapeutically endorsed. Being one of those who completed their undergraduate degree before therapeutics were legal in the state I was registered in (back in the days before national registration), I graduated without a therapeutic endorsement. So this year I started my Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics in order to be able to prescribe drops for ocular inflammations, infections, and for conditions such as glaucoma. While the first section of the course was a complete nightmare as it was mostly clinically irrelevant – think first year university basic sciences all over again – at least it has become more relevant in my career as a clinician now!! The lecturers are actually starting to talk about eye diseases and eye drops! Happy days!! However, the many hours it takes each week to write lecture notes and study is taking away the time I would have spent improving My Health Career. So at the moment it’s just ticking along….. which….. as someone who wants to get out there and grow the website well beyond its 14,000 to 15,000 visitors per month in order to help drown out the mis-information about health careers….. is incredibly frustrating!!

 

On the road…..

Obviously I was on the road (well, really, it was a bit more like “trains, planes and automobiles” really) a lot in 2015, so I took the opportunity to tick a few things off my “Bucket List.”

  • Things that I ticked off my “Bucket List” during my travels in 2015 were going to the Archibald Prize in Sydney, doing the Grand Canyon track in the Blue Mountains (definitely my travel highlight of the year – this track had such a stunning array of natural diversity that I hardly put my camera away during the whole walk), doing the Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach Circuit in Tasmania, returning to the Jenolan Caves (I really do love it there) and attending a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra (another highlight of the year – it was extremely moving).
Canyon Blue Mountains 1

Grand Canyon track – Blue Mountains

 

Canyon Blue Mountains 2

Grand Canyon track – Blue Mountains

 

Tomaree

Just one snippet of the incredible view from Tomaree Head

 

AMG PAH with MHC posterSo as you can see, it’s been another action packed year not only at My Health Career but for me personally. I’m just waiting to see what 2016 has in store!!
Thanks so much to everyone who has been involved in 2015,
Amanda Griffiths – Founder My Health Career.

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Comments

  1. AC says:

    Excellent! Thank you for all the work that you and the team do, very useful for students like myself. Please keep it up! AC

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