Before you start your optometry degree
Many stores run bursaries for students to cover their university course fees. Bradford store director Mike Dearlove says: ‘We offer optical assistant roles for students as well as bursaries and pre-reg opportunities to help people develop until they have qualified, and then beyond. Our optometrists go into schools to explain to 14 to 16-year-olds what optometry is at the point when they’re making decisions about their future. Optometry is rarely on their agenda before we talk to them, so we explain that it’s a great healthcare career, very flexible, and competitive in terms of salary. Also, every time we see younger people during a sight test we’ll talk to them and their parents about it if they show an interest.’
Being a student
Specsavers’ on-campus programme gives university students a head-start. The sessions let you meet Specsavers business owners, share clinical skills with heads of enhanced optical services who lead their field, and talk to newly-qualified optometrists, who can give you a true picture of what to expect from life after qualification and the different career opportunities available.
Ellen Torrence, now an optometrist in Inverness, says: ‘It was great to meet members of the Specsavers team at university before my pre-reg year and see how enthusiastic they are and gain from all their experience.’
The Specsavers graduate team will help prepare you to be an excellent optometrist, not just to pass a degree. The undergrad programme focuses on personal growth, with workshops to help you become more aware of your core traits and communication preferences. These will help improve your people skills as well as clinical decision making.
Your pre-reg location
With more than 800 stores, Specsavers has plenty of locations to choose from, so you can find a placement that is right for you. You may find our accommodation service useful, which helps you team up with other pre-reg trainees in approved housing.
Dr Josie Forte, optometrist director of the Plymouth group of stores, says: ‘Some pre-regs like to be in the city centre, but you are likely to see more diverse pathology in rural or coastal areas with older populations. Many optometrists find this interesting and rewarding to help manage’.
The best training
When you join your pre-reg store team, you will get a day-long induction to get started and will benefit from eight other days of courses covering everything from optical coherence tomography (OCT) devices to oculoplastics, competencies to contact lenses.
Dr Josie says: ‘We want pre-regs to have great clinical training with us. Like many Specsavers stores, we have a strong relationship with our local hospital, so if you are clinically-minded there are lots of opportunities in minor eye conditions services (MECS), glaucoma schemes, diabetic retinal screening and post-operative cataract care.
‘To make sure we have the best-quality supervisors, we ask both newly-qualified and established optometrists. They love the two-way feedback. It’s proven to be a brilliant opportunity for experienced optometrists to get involved. There’s no better way of keeping up-to-date than being challenged by a recently-graduated optometrist!’
Not just sight tests
As a pre-reg you will be given the chance to become accredited, alongside other professional staff in the store, to provide enhanced optical services as part of your studies. It’s not just clinical training: you can choose to learn about the best ways to communicate with and test people who have autism, disfigurements, dementia or other special needs, in stores or their own home.
98% pass rate
An impressive 98% of Specsavers’ pre-reg cohort pass their Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), many first time. The results are testimony not only to their hard work but also to expert guidance from our College of Optometry-trained supervisors, who are committed and supported to provide all the help a pre-reg needs to succeed.
An ongoing career. Choose now – and choose later
When you embark on a career as a Specsavers optometrist, you open up your future career choices.
Some become business partners – enjoying ownership of their store – while others go on to assume a leading role in developing the clinical services the store provides. The choice is yours.
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