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60 Seconds with an Orthoptist

60 Seconds with Allanah Crameri
Photo: 60 Seconds with Allanah Crameri
HealthTimes speaks to Allanah Crameri, an Orthoptist at Ballarat Eye Clinic and member of Orthoptics Australia. 

What is your current employer, title and role?

I am a full time Orthoptist at the Ballarat Eye Clinic in Ballarat, Victoria. My role includes seeing an array of patients prior to the Ophthalmologists and performing relevant testing and scans. I see children regularly who have an eye turn or unequal vision and manage them accordingly. I also perform scans and measurements prior to a patient’s cataract surgery, just to name a few.

Why did you become an Orthoptist?
I became an Orthoptist because I was interested in eye health and how such a small organ worked. I also wanted a career where I could help patients manage and treat their eye conditions.
Where did you study orthoptics?
I studied Orthoptics at La Trobe University in Melbourne. However the discipline of Orthoptics is now offered at universities across Australia. I know that the University of Technology Sydney has a strong Orthoptics faculty.

What was your career pathway into Orthoptics?
I enrolled into university right after finishing high school. I wasn’t sure what health discipline I wanted to study so enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Sciences. After the common first year, I chose Speech Pathology and Orthoptics to specialise in. I got offered Orthoptics and have never looked back.

What’s the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is seeing how grateful patients are for your help and care. I love seeing an improvement in a child’s vision after we have done patching to try and get their vision equal. Sometimes their poor eye does not even meet driving standards at first so to see this reversed is a great moment.

What do you think makes a good health professional?
A good health professional must be a people person and know how to interact and communicate effectively with people. They must also have a good rapport and show sympathy & support when needed.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become an Orthoptist?
I think I would have become a primary school teacher because I love working with children and sharing my knowledge to help others.

What advancements do you think will change Orthoptics in the next 10 years?
I think the role of the Orthoptist will expand and our skill sets will change to cater for the growing and ageing population. As Ophthalmologists attend to more advanced cases and perform more surgeries, Orthoptists will be leading screening and monitoring clinics for conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. These types of clinics are already running in some hospital outpatient settings.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
In 5 years I hope to still be working as an Orthoptist and possibly taking part in Orthoptic research too.

What advice would you give to new health professionals?
As a new health professional, don’t be shy or nervous. Believe in yourself and the knowledge you have gained in order to help and care for the patients you see. Good communication is key as you will be able to connect and build a good rapport with your patients.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My parents have had a big influence on my career in a positive way. They have always been there for me and have been very supportive of whatever I have chosen to do. They are always encouraging me to reach for the stars and become the best person I can.

What is your least favourite thing about working in eye health?
My least favourite thing about working in eye health would be the crazy, busy days. Not all days are like this but when they are you feel you don’t get the time to connect and listen to the patients as you would on a quieter day. 

Who is your role model and why?
I would say that all the Orthoptists I work with at the Ballarat Eye Clinic are my role models (Hayley, Irene, Bonnie and Ash). I have learnt so much from them all and they have helped me become the Orthoptist I am. They are all so talented and knowledgeable about Orthoptics, which is what I aim to be in the future.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming an Orthoptist?
I would say to definitely give it a go. This career isn’t suited to everyone but if you love working in a team environment and like being challenged and learning new things everyday, then you should definitely consider becoming and Orthoptist. You will see an array of patients aged from 8 weeks old to 80 years old and every patient is different.

If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
If I didn’t have to work I would travel the world and aim to visit as many countries as I could.

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