CPD author Q+A

“I’d like to see the expansion of the scope of practice of optometrists”

Megan Zabell on the summer school that led her to optometry, balancing the business side of the profession, and her advice for graduates

boxing wrap

Why did you become an optometrist?

Megan Zabell
Megan Zabell
I wanted to study a course that was not available in the university of my hometown of Darwin, Australia, in order to try and push myself out of my comfort zone. I knew I wanted to study something medicine-adjacent, but had no true interest in becoming an MD. It was a science summer school, held in Melbourne, that I attended in year 11 that helped me decide on optometry.

What is the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in your career to date?

Reconciling the reality of optometry as being in a unique position where we’re a mix of retail and healthcare, compared to the pure clinical healthcare model that we were taught at university. I now understand that it’s important to understand the retail/business side of optometry, although it was a steep learning curve after graduation.

If you could change one thing about optometry, what would it be and why?

In Australia, I’d like to see the expansion of the scope of practice of optometrists, to allow us to better serve our patients and reduce the waiting time for certain ophthalmological services. This comes with a caveat: it would need to come with change to both the training and assessment of optometrists, perhaps, to ensure patient safety is protected.

What advice would you give newly-qualified optometrists?

I’d advise new graduates to learn to really back themselves. It can be scary practising after coming out of that supportive university environment, but you wouldn’t have graduated if you were not able to demonstrate the necessary skills, so believe in yourself. I’d also encourage you to lean on industry supports as they’re available to you.

Who inspires you?

My parents, my late grandmother, and my partner. They all have different positive qualities that I try to emulate and develop in myself – patience, storytelling abilities, kindness and an easy-going attitude.

Tell OT about one of your hobbies:

I have an oddball collection of hobbies. If I were to pick one it would be my love of learning languages – currently I’m learning Telugu, Spanish and Auslan (or Australian sign language).

Tell OT something unexpected about yourself:

I’ve previously fought Muay Thai at a professional level.

What are you reading/watching at the moment?

I’m re-watching Offspring, an Australian TV show.