La Trobe | A vision for student learning experience – the La Trobe Eye Clinic

La Trobe
Awards category
The Future Builder Award
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The La Trobe Eye Clinic, a student-led university clinic, was established to create a real-world student learning opportunity, address shortages in clinical placements and provide on-the-job experience in paediatric orthoptics for orthoptic students.

In partnership with the Royal Children’s Hospital, a collaboration involving the co-management of paediatric patients was established and later expanded to include referral pathways for Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services. The university clinic now offers 500 placement days per year to students and, since implementation, has provided over 3,000 patient consultations with 650 patients co-managed with the hospital and 600 children referred by MCH nurses or other health professionals.

With the exponential increase in referrals, the clinic will see over 1,200 patients in 2023.

La Trobe Eye Clinic has developed a robust and integrated clinical pathway that has optimised outcomes for children and increased student placements, whilst providing real world learning opportunities for orthoptic students.

Finalist - La Trobe

"On behalf of The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH), we are delighted to endorse the nomination of the La Trobe Eye Clinic (LTEC) for the Future Builder Award. The cornerstone of this nomination is the establishment of the first student-led orthoptic clinic in Australia, featuring a collaborative care model in partnership with the tertiary eyecare sector. This innovative teaching program represents an out-of-the ­box approach, providing students with a unique opportunity to develop their skills in paediatric orthoptics. Given the limited opportunities for students to acquire real-world experiences in this subspecialty area, this initiative has filled a crucial skill gap.

The significance of the LTEC experience lies in its exposure of students to a diverse range of paediatric patients, offering invaluable hands-on experience in managing various ocular disorders. This exposure is typically challenging to obtain outside the hospital setting. Moreover, LTEC encourages students to actively participate in planning patient assessments and developing management plans, fostering an environment that values debate and discussion. This approach motivates students, cultivates critical thinking skills, and establishes a foundation for effective teamwork and independent practice.

The collaboration between the RCH and LTEC has also proven valuable for the hospital, significantly reducing wait times, and ensuring our patients have timely access to alternative, high-quality care pathways. The partnership has effectively bridged healthcare access gaps by offering affordable services to an underserved population. Consequently, the initiative not only enhances the education of future healthcare professionals but also addresses healthcare access gaps in the community.

In summary, we wholeheartedly support the nomination of LTEC for the Future Builder Award. Their innovative approach to teaching and proactive engagement with industry has enhanced education in paediatric orthoptics and has sparked inspiration in a new generation of orthoptists poised to make a positive impact in their chosen career."

Cathy Lewis

Chief Orthoptist, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne and Anu Mathew, Director of Ophthalmology, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

“As a graduated orthoptic student of La Trobe, the La Trobe Eye Clinic was an invaluable part of allowing me to develop my skills as both an orthoptist, as well as a healthcare professional, that can work effectively with other professionals and patients.

The greatest strength of the La Trobe Eye Clinic is the student led approach, which allowed students to identify and consolidate areas in knowledge or skill that they were lacking before entering the workforce; the value of encouraging independent and critical introspection cannot be overstated, nor the transferability of these skills into other aspects of the graduate's life.

The clinic provided a realistic insight into how practice clinics are run, but with the supportive structure and staff, (both administrative and clinical supervision), to prepare graduates with the knowledge and practical skills to enter the workforce regardless of which specialty they pursued.”

Sophia Tai

Bachelor of Orthoptics graduate, La Trobe University

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