Optometry takes Ruth from Scotland to New Zealand – and back again

Spectrum meets Ruth Knox, who after a stint in New Zealand is taking on a new role in her career journey as an optometrist director in Elgin, Scotland.

Tell us about yourself

Born and bred in Lossiemouth, on the Scottish Moray coast, I left there to study in Glasgow and settled in the city for some years after university. I moved to New Zealand, initially as a six month working holiday as an optometrist, which ended up in permanent residency with my partner, but a seven year itch has brought me home to family and friends in Mo­ray. We’ve settled back into the fantastic lifestyle we are so lucky to enjoy here in Moray, although we do still enjoy some holidays abroad in New Zealand.

How did you come to run a Specsavers store?

After returning home to Scotland I knew I would settle in Moray. I realised that staying would give me the opportunity to contribute to the community long term, more than I had been able to before in my work environments. I have known Peter Taylor, our retail director, for over 20 years so I was aware there was an opportunity in the Elgin practice to work alongside him and the team there. I was keen on cementing myself in this busy practice – allowing me to contribute and help lead a vibrant and happy team of people. Although I haven’t been schooled in the tradi­tional managerial pathways, it’s pure on-the-job experience that Specsavers recognised when I approached them about owning a business. I am delighted they have welcomed me to their team.

What experience do you have?

Before qualifying, I worked in many high-street practices – in every single role available, I have literally done it all. Since qualifying in 2000, I have worked full-time as a practicing optometrist; that’s nearly two decades in an examination room and in that time I have been lucky enough to work in very varied optical prac­tices.

Tell us about your day to day job

My comfort zone is in the examination room, helping patients, and in my new role as director, I will still do that for the majority of my time as I enjoy the interaction. We genuinely get to help people every single day and I will never give that up. This is why, in 2015, I completed additional training to allow me to prescribe ocular medications – as an independent prescriber I can diagnose, treat and review my patients without the need for additional GP appointments.

What do you do as director?

The new part of my role as a director is helping bring together a strong and established team of optical profession­als – making sure they have the envi­ronment and the tools they need to do an excellent job for each and every patient we see. Along my journey, I have carefully watched and learned different ways to provide great service and what works best for patients – to make sure we provide them with time­ly, effective eye care in a friendly yet profes­sional environment that works for everybody. This is my aim, my chal­lenge, and every day I look forward to working with our team to make that a daily reality.

Do you wear specs and what is your favourite style?

I’m moderately myopic and have sev­eral pairs of spectacles; my frames usu­ally have a nod towards retro styling because cat-eye shapes suit me best, but I have lots of options for different occasions and moods. I wear daily disposable contact lenses at weekends and my sunglasses are always polarised (prescription or non-prescription worn with contact lenses) – they’re great for our low winter sun and occasional summer sun in the north of Scotland.

Specsavers Partnership

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