Clinical Teaching of Optometry Students

When I was an optometry student at the University of Melbourne, one of my great memories is the outstanding clinical teaching I received when I started to see patients for the first time.  Most of the clinical instructors were experienced optometrists from private practice who happily gave up a day or half day of their time while also making a considerable financial sacrifice in spending time away from their practice.  Some of these clinicians were from the country which often meant they travelled very long distances to come into the University to be involved with clinical teaching and I never ceased to be amazed by this incredible commitment to the teaching program and the profession in general.  While there was often considerable diversity amongst the clinicians with respect to their teaching methods, they all had in common great enthusiasm for their craft, an obvious passion for their profession and a strong desire to impart their clinical skills onto the next generation of optometrists.


After I graduated I did clinical teaching for many years, however with family commitments I have had to take a break from this in more recent years.  We still have optometry students from Australia and overseas who come and do externships at our practice and these students are always very keen to learn and fascinated by the challenging contact lens patients who we see on a regular basis.  My colleague Andrew Huhtanen is now doing clinical teaching one afternoon a week at the University and this is something he finds both stimulating and enjoyable.  In keeping with tradition, there are a number of other outstanding optometrists from private practice also giving of their time to be involved with the clinical teaching program, thus ensuring that the students receive the appropriate mentoring so when they graduate as optometrists they have the required clinical skills and knowledge.