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OCT 09/2014

Revised registration standards for UK Optometrists working in Australia

Eyechart_Image courtesy of marin.jpgUK eye health professionals seeking optometry jobs have long been attracted to Australia due to the wide variety of personal and professional opportunities available to them in the nation. 
 
Indeed, overseas-trained optometrists have been in great demand in Australia for some time, with a healthy supply of locum vacancies giving them ample opportunity to gather experience of the nation's healthcare system and reap the practical, financial and personal rewards of working abroad.
 
For overseas-trained optometrists, there has never been a better time to make the move following some recent changes to registration standards in Australia - which mean it is now easier than ever before to work in the nation. 
 
The implications of the legal change
The Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand (OCANZ) introduced the change in June 2012 to cut down the bureaucratic burden on optometrists attempting to find work in the region, reducing the number of steps involved in registering and working there.
 
In order to be eligible to work in the sector, candidates previously needed to pass both parts of the OCANZ registration exams. The first of these encompasses a pair of written competency tests, to be taken in the UK, which are open to anyone with relevant bachelor's degree qualifications in optometry or ophthalmic optics.
 
These are then followed by clinical and patient-based examinations that must be completed within three years. However, whereas part two of the process was once a prerequisite for those seeking to apply for a role, the recent changes to the system make it possible to secure a job with only the written tests passed.
 
As such, optometrists with limited OCANZ registration can get visa sponsorship and work in Australia, generally on a supervised basis, having only completed the first part of the process. They can then work towards their practical accreditation (Part 2) after making the move.
 
The benefits of Australian optometry jobs
This change was made due to a shortage of available staff in Australia and was designed to expedite the process for optometrists to become eligible to work, while also allowing professionals the opportunity to work in an Australian environment prior to sitting the practical exam.
 
In total, the entire process - from enquiry to placement - can take around 12 months, after which point optometrists can begin enjoying the many benefits that the sector has to offer.
 
Salary rates tend to be extremely competitive compared to the UK, with permanent annual salaries ranging from AUD $80,000 (£43,380), for new graduates, to as much as AUD $140,000 (£75,920) for experienced or senior optometrists in more regional areas.
 
Substantial career development opportunities are available for those who choose to spend a significant amount of time in the country, while chances for personal growth are manifold. For those who wish to spend some time travelling, it is possible to combine a backpacking tour with locum work, moving between available roles in each region. 
 
From a career development perspective, there are also numerous advantages to locuming in regional areas, where optometrists are more likely to encounter a wider variety of ocular diseases, and are ultimately better placed to put their training into practice. 
Meanwhile, attractive relocation packages are also offered, with flights and accommodation sometimes paid depending on the role. This is more common for those keen to work in rural locations or areas of need.
 
All of these factors add up to a compelling package for optometrists with the temperament, skills and desire succeed in a foreign culture, making the prospect of working in Australia more appealing than ever before.
 
 
 
Image courtesy of marin @ freedigitalphotos

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