My Health Career
- In 2016 the website had over 280,000 unique visitors. I’m aways open to suggestions on what topics you think should be discussed in the health industry, so email email@example.com if you want to get involved!
- In 2016 I was lucky enough to be awarded a contract with the Health and Community Services Workforce Council, a Queensland-based NGO who were looking to develop a series of infographics about Vocational Education and Training (VET) pathways in 9 areas of the health industry. I must extend my thanks to Kelly Kerwitz in particular from the workforce council, who was fantastic to work with on this task. I’m hoping there will be more things we can work in in 2017 and beyond! Here is a (small) version of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infographic as an example:
- This year I only exhibited at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Health Careers Forum – it was a great day spent chatting with high school students about their aspirations in the health industry
- Due to the popularity of the ATAR / OP articles in 2015, we updated them in 2016 and did a new round. Click here for the link to the ATARs and OPs for 14 health professions.
- I went along to the SMACC Red Carpet event at Circular Quay in September, and found it fantastic to mingle with such a great bunch of health practitioners such as emergency nurses, doctors, paramedics and social workers.
- I am extremely grateful to everyone who contributed articles and comments in 2016 and can’t wait for more in 2017! I’m also grateful for the support that I received from numerous people behind the scenes including Muzda, Carlos and Loc.
As well as my regular locum gig at Southport on the Gold Coast, I tested eyes in the following locations in 2016:
- Port Macquarie (2 weeks)
- Burleigh Heads (2 days a week for about 4 months)
- Griffith (2 weeks)
- Greenslopes in Brisbane (3 weeks)
- Rockhampton (2 weeks)
- Taree (3 weeks)
- Canberra (1 week)
I was incredibly grateful to my co-workers in all of these practices for making me feel so welcome, and there are some practices that I can’t wait to return to because we are all family now.
I think that this being my second year of locuming meant that I was used to being more adaptable and had a bit more “room” to develop relationships with some of the staff in the practices. I met some really interesting people and learned a lot from them this year. Also, after being bullied in a couple of practices in 2015, it was great to not have this experience again as I’d learned to set some personal and professional boundaries.
It was great to have a nice bath in the accommodation in Griffith!! I’m going back again in January!!
Optometry Continuing Professional Development
- I started a Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics in September 2015 and completed it in November 2016. I found the didactic component to be fairly dry, but had an absolute blast learning from some fantastic ophthalmologists during my clinical placements. One in particular was seriously a walking encyclopaedia on eyes and had the highest clinical standards I have ever seen. What a treat to spend some time in that space!!
- It was great to learn some stuff, but importantly to meet such an enthusiastic group at the Young Optometrists Paediatrics Day in Sydney in June
- I went along to the RANZCO referral pathways workshop for optometrists in Melbourne in November and took away some interesting information on the classification of age-related macular degeneration in particular
- In December I attended a 4 day Mindful Self Compassion workshop for professionals – which was particularly timely for me as I have just started to incorporate this into my optometric practice. I’m considering a mindfulness for health professionals theme some time in 2017, so stay tuned for more on this!!
Physical and mental health
- Those of you who know me well may be aware that I started seeing a holistic GP in late 2015. She confirmed (without straight out saying) that I had been mismanaged by my previous GP of 15 years. So this meant that the issues with my hormones and gastro-intestinal tract had become ridiculous. It has taken over 12 months to get my physical health anywhere near to being back on track, and it’s still a work in progress. Along the way the GP picked up that I had anxiety and referred me over to a (brilliant) psychologist. So it turns out that after a trauma in 2014 I’d lumped post-traumatic stress disorder on top of the anxiety I’d had since I was 3 years old. So after a number of at times gut-wrenching, dark and emotionally draining sessions with the psychologist and many, many days of soul-searching and working my way through some incredibly dark places I was officially anxiety-free as at Monday 26th September. I am incredibly grateful to both my GP and psychologist for everything they have done and continue to do to guide me towards excellent physical and mental health. The thing that really struck me as I was going through therapy for the PTSD / anxiety was that I felt extremely ashamed of the thought processes that were occurring in my head because it made me feel “abnormal.” It took a lot to realise that it was just an adaptation following some traumas. To anyone who struggles with mental health issues, I would say go and get help. It’s the best thing you could ever do for yourself. I now have great respect for anyone who seeks treatment for or overcomes mental health issues, because let me tell you, I was scared to death for about 3 months this year. It takes courage to go through the process of therapy. Thankfully I was able to find mine, and I believe that most people can.
- In June I had a grade 2 tear of a ligament in my right wrist. It happened when I was in a shopping centre and the floor was wet and I slipped over as I moved out of somebody’s way. I learned that sometimes I just need to stay still and let others go around me in order to avoid being injured! Many thanks to my hand therapist David Coles for drawing lines on me and taking photos of me on my phone to ensure that I would be able to do my exercises properly when I got home!! Believe it or not, I’m a spatially challenged optometrist….. I have some issues with spatial memory……
- I looked at my diary and it seems that I had about 18 massages in 2016. I think it’s important as health professionals that we do what we need to in order to look after ourselves.
Museums, tours and art:
- I went to a number of museum exhibitions this year and each time came away with a greater appreciation for humanity and / or the natural world. These exhibitions were Medieval Power: Symbols & Splendour (Queensland Museum), Rough Medicine (Australian National Maritime Museum), The History of the World in 100 Objects from the British Museum (National Museum of Australia) and Spiders (Australian Museum). It was great to meet up with rural health icon Rebecca Irwin and go to the 100 Objects exhibition in Canberra with her. I particularly loved that I went into the Spiders exhibition with some apprehension (as I generally don’t like creepy-crawlies) and came out being totally in love with the beauty and ability to survive that these creatures have!!
- Having been through so many “repairs” with my mental health this year I really appreciated the Korean dish with Japanese repairs at the exhibition from the British Museum. I love that the Japanese repaired broken pottery with lacquer mixed with materials such as powdered gold to treat the breakage and repair as part of the history of the bowl, rather than something to disguise.
- I also went to the Archibald Prize, did the Backstage Tour at the Sydney Opera House and went to a “behind the scenes” rehearsal of The Australian Ballet doing Coppelia. Watching the dancers in The Australian Ballet was an amazing experience because I saw that even they struggle with some of the practice exercises they need to do in order to be able to perform at the level they do. It was also great to see David Hallberg, principal dancer for the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet talk through and physically work through some of the issues that came up during his solo performance as part of Coppelia. I liked his calm confidence in his ability, but also his aspiration to improve.
- As I did when I was in Canberra in 2015, I went to a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial. Again I found this to be incredibly moving, as although I am grateful for the peace that we have in Australia, it makes me acutely aware of how much I need to appreciate this.
Getting back to nature
- This year I did one of my “regular” trips to Binna Burra in the Gold Coast hinterland – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been bush walking there
- It was great to visit the Barrenjoey Lighthouse on one of my Sydney trips this year
- I also took the opportunity to visit the Capricorn Caves while I was in Rockhampton, and went to a farmstay in south-east Queensland with the crew from the Gold Coast practice. Both were fantastic experiences!!
I did the locum week in Canberra kinda as an excuse to then return to the Jenolan Caves and Blue Mountains. This time I did Ribbon Cave, the Plughole Adventure tour and Diamond Cave. On recommendation from an optometrist I did the Valley of the Waters walk in the Blue Mountains, and it was spectacular. I also did the short undercliff track across to Wentworth falls, which was really beautiful too. One day I will actually learn to take photos that do justice to the natural wonders I see! However, I was so pleased that I was able to capture some of the beauty of the caves this time, as my Jenolan Caves photos previously have been disappointing to say the least!
- Due to time constraints with My Health Career, ocular therapeutics study, sitting at home contemplating things as part of my therapy with my PTSD / anxiety, I didn’t get out into nature as much as I would have liked in 2016, so this is definitely on my hit list in 2017!
Dance and yoga classes and other fun stuff:
- I did over 140 yoga classes this year, about 110 of them being in a hot room, and about 25 being yin – mostly this was at home (as in attending classes on the Gold Coast), but I did try the classes in Taree and Canberra. Two of the teachers I resonated with the most were in Taree. I am grateful that yoga has taught me to connect with my breath as a means of being present. In particular, it is continuing to teach me about the mind-body connection.
- One of the things I enjoyed the most in 2016 was visiting the Kenrick Tucker Velodrome in Rockhampton where it all started for Anna Meares as a junior cyclist. I find there is just something really special about seeing the humble beginnings that people can come from and go on to be world-class in their field.
- I went to 5 Sydney Dance Company classes this year, and always try to get to these when I’m in Sydney because they are so much fun and so great for fitness. I love the whole vibe of this place!!
- On the topic of dance, my biggest regret this year was not at least putting in a bid on a silent auction at the Opera Queensland Gala. The opportunity to go behind the scenes at a Queensland Ballet rehearsal and meet Li Cunxin (as in the guy from the autobiographical novel and movie Mao’s Last Dancer), who is now the artistic director of the Queensland Ballet and has, in my opinion improved the overall standard of ballet in the company out of sight. I didn’t bid for three reasons. Firstly, there were people on my table telling me “that’s really expensive – are you sure you want to bid)? And secondly, I don’t think I’ve really made it public knowledge that I did dancing as a kid and love to go along and watch performances. The auction item was for 4 people, and I don’t know 3 people who would have been interested in going along with me. Thirdly, I didn’t think I would be able to find 3 people to go along with me in the space of about 6 weeks. So to have given up the opportunity to meet someone as inspirational as Li Cunxin (who I then saw in the audience at The Nutcracker in Canberra) was extremely disappointing.
- The chimpanzees at the Rockhampton Zoo decided to put on a show – it was as though after about 20 seconds they realised they were being filmed and decided to ham it up!!
- Being a Gold Coast local, I purchased a VIP pass this year and so far have been to Seaworld twice and Movieworld once. This is something that I definitely wouldn’t have done previously because my anxiety prevented me from wanting to go on “scary” rides. I used rollercoasters as a way of teaching myself to be in the present moment – and I loved the feeling of just going with wherever the rollercoasters took me. So as you can imagine, I was extremely distressed when 4 people died in the accident at Dreamworld this year, and my heart goes out to everyone involved in this tragic event.
Going to the theatre
- I went to quite a few operas, art exhibitions, musicals and other live performances this year. This included La Bella Vita – Opera Queensland’s Italian themed event on the Gold Coast, Opera Australia’s The Barber of Seville in Sydney, Fiddler on the Roof in Sydney, Opera Australia’s Carmen in Sydney, Opera Queensland’s The Barber of Seville in Rockhampton, Queensland Ballet’s The Nutcracker in Canberra, The Peasant Prince in Rockhampton, the Opera Queensland Opera at the Movies gala in Brisbane, and 2Cellos with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Sydney. Seeing Anthony Warlow in the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof was one of the highlights of my entire year – he was amazing. Both Opera Australia and Opera Queensland performed The Barber of Seville this year as it was the 200th anniversary of the first performance. It’s my favourite opera! And well done to Opera Queensland for your most engaging interpretation!
As you can tell, I took the opportunity to schedule in whatever I could that I was interested in according to where I was travelling during locum trips in particular!! If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that taking the time to set intentions and “smell the roses” actually makes me more productive and better able to focus on the things I’m working on when I sit down to work on them. I wish the same for you in your career too!