Dispensing opticians trailblaze a new route to qualification

We talk to former Cert 4 students and now newly-qualified dispensing opticians Ruth Botcherby and Richard Briscoe about their trailblazing route to qualification, and what life is like now working as a DO.

Ruth’s story

Ruth Botcherby FBDO, Specsavers Swaledale

(Right) Ruth and her husband, Trevor

What prompted you to enrol on the Cert 4 course?

The route I took to do Cert 4 was by doing the old optical assistant courses and then, when Cert 3 was made available, I continued on to complete that. I always had in mind that Cert 4 was my next step which happened within weeks of passing my Cert 3. I always wanted to progress in my career so Cert 4 was a natural progression.

How did you find it?

I knew the courses would get harder as I went on but I was determined. The maths worried me at first but, by doing the Cert 4 course, I actually found that the maths side was my strongest side, surprisingly, and unlike at school, I loved all the maths as it was applied to my learning and made sense. I learned that if I put my mind to something I could succeed at it regardless of first impressions.

What made you want to take your dispensing career further?

When I joined Specsavers five years ago my director said in the future there was scope to progress to become a dispensing optician, so right from the start I knew I wanted to progress. It was my goal in my career and I was determined and focussed.

How did you find the transition from Cert 4 to ABDO student?

The transition from Cert 4 to the fast track progression pathway was effortless. Cert 4 really prepares you for the next step. I was fortunate to be in the first pilot group which meant I was able to start the ABDO course at year 2.

I received massive support from my director and supervisor Ross Campbell, my other supervisors through the duration, Kimberley Bewick and Nicola Moss. Also colleagues and fellow students and of course my husband Trevor and family members. Everyone helped and supported and laughed and cried with me when I passed the course to become FBDO.

I have made life-long friends with fellow students and the ABDO lecturers are so helpful. My tutors were also there whenever I needed help with assignments.

What were the main challenges?

It was hard working full time and fitting in my studies, which was an assignment each week. Each day off work was my study day so that I could keep my nights free to spend with my husband. I had to be really strict and dedicated with myself but it paid off in the end.

And rewards?

I can’t express the elation when I opened my final exam results to see I had passed everything. I had doubted myself, as you do, and physically cried with Kim my supervisor when I opened them. I was shaking and crying with happiness. I was on top of the world.

What advice would you offer others considering a similar route? 

Go for it! I have never regretted a single minute. Yes it is challenging but the end result is worth it. “Today’s challenge is tomorrow’s result” is an expression I kept saying to myself.

How’s life now that you’re a fully qualified DO?

Very fulfilling. To be able to use your knowledge to help patients and also to advise colleagues is very rewarding. It’s never a dull moment. Being able to prevent problems before they happen, due to the increased knowledge I have, is a great skill that I have gained through the ABDO course. Making your own decisions and standing by them is also satisfying.

I really and truly have never regretted my decision to become a DO. I enjoyed the course so much (despite the stress at times) that I have progressed further and am training to become a contact lens optician through ABDO so I can use my dispensing skills as a DO and contact lens skills as a CLO to help others.

I enjoyed the course so much (despite the stress at times) that I have progressed further and am training to become a contact lens optician.Ruth Botcherby FBDO, Specsavers Swaledale

Cert 4 gave me the confidence to carry on developing my skills and knowledge so I could be of better service and support to patients and my colleagues.Richard Briscoe FBDO, Specsavers Carlisle

Peter O’German and Jamie Price at the ABDO graduation in Canterbury Cathedral

Dee Ni Annrachain and Gail Murphy

Dee Browning and Joanne Bradshaw

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