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Dear Colleagues

Welcome to the March edition of our newsletter.

Let me start by welcoming Emily Benefer, the school’s new optical assistant who will be providing much needed support to Kristine in dispensing.  And on the subject of new arrivals, congratulations to Sam Schwarzkopf and his wife Frances on the birth of their daughter Rhiannon Ada!

Staff are gearing up for the new academic year. Reorganisation of the BOptom curriculum means that this year is a uniquely busy year for us. Moving the students’ research projects forward a year means that both Part IV and Part V students will be running research projects, and I am grateful to all staff who are supervising extra students to help take the strain.

We are also preparing for the opening of two new clinics in March. The first is a pop-up clinic opening on the University City campus on Tuesday 5th March (thanks to everyone involved including Adina, Geraint, Kristine, Wanda, Bhav and Jaymie). Online appointments are already flooding in! The second is a Dry Eye clinic opening at Grafton on 13 March and led by Marcy Tong. Dry eye – caused by problems with maintaining the tear film – is an increasingly prevalent problem in NZ and the new service will offer state-of-the-art treatment (at affordable prices). More detail of these initiatives can be found in the newsletter.

Finally, earlier in the month I had a very enjoyable visit to the Rural Health Interprofessional Programme (RHIP) based at Whakatāne Hospital, Eastern Bay of Plenty. Ian and Michael at Visique Whakatāne have hosted Part V student Sushmita Chinchankar through RHIP for five weeks (who by all accounts has represented SOVS magnificently). This programme is a unique opportunity for our students to mix with other health professionals, experience rural optometry practice and to learn first-hand about the barriers that many New Zealander face in accessing eye health care. Schemes like RHIP are just one way we are seeking to further diversify the clinical experience of our students and we are enormously grateful to Yvonne Boyes and Matt Sinton for their working in running RHIP. We look forward to sending more of our students their way in the future.

Hei konā mai

Steven

Professor Steven Dakin
Head of School, Optometry and Vision Science
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

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