Newly-qualified optometrist helps shape pre-reg training

Meet Daventry optometrist Bhargavi Zinzuwadia, one of the key consultants behind a newly launched study guide for trainee optometrists.

Bhargavi Zinzuwadia only qualified as an optometrist five months ago,  in February 2019, but she already has an impressive CV.

The newly-qualified optometrist helped to write the updated version of Specsavers’ pre-registration study guide, Optometry Essentials, alongside Kiki Soteri (head of optometry development) and Daniel Hardiman-McCartney (consultant to the professional advancement team).

Bhargavi got involved shortly after completing her pre-reg period at Specsavers Daventry, when optometrist director Satvinder Soomal put her name forward for the project. She had already met Kiki Soteri at  Excel, an event for newly qualified optometrist.

‘I’m proud of Optometry Essentials. It’s a summary of many things you learn at university and gives you insight into what you’re going to learn as a pre-reg.’

Bhargavi says: ‘I’m proud of Optometry Essentials. It’s a summary of many things you learn at university and gives you insight into what you’re going to learn as a pre-reg,. So you can use it as a companion to help you learn from every patient you see in practice, and if you need to do further research, it also points you to helpful links and resources.

Involving a recently qualified optometrist was important to making Optometry Essentialsas relevant and useful as possible. Bhargavi says she had strong ideas based on her own pre-reg experience. She says: ‘My perspective was that it’s a massive transition from university to pre-reg and I wanted to portray that, but I also wanted to make that jump easier. I helped come up with scenario-based questions and included new revision techniques to help other students and pre-reg optoms.’

She enjoyed the experience of working on the group-wide training project, particularly with such experienced colleagues. ‘It was exciting,’ she says. ‘We each worked on a section then reviewed ideas on a weekly basis. We also collaborated on each other’s chapters and added questions.’

Bhargavi Zinzuwadia with colleague at Specsavers Daventry

Optometry Essentials wasn’t Bhargavi’s only involvement in projects. During her pre-reg period, she successfully applied to be a regular contributor to Optometry Todaymagazine, writing a series of blogs and appearing in several videos about her pre-reg experience.

Bhargavi chose optometry as a career while doing work experience at an independent opticians in her home town of Leicester. ‘I did a lot of work experience around the healthcare professions, and optometry appealed the most,’ she says. ‘You’re in primary care, you work one-to-one with patients, you’ve got flexible hours. And it’s not just the clinical aspect – there are other things you can get involved with too, like the business side of things or lecturing.’

‘My perspective was that it’s a massive transition from university to pre-reg and I wanted to portray that, but I also wanted to make that jump easier.’

She found plenty of things to get involved with while studying for her Optometry BSc at Aston University – she was a peer mentor, a rep for the Association of Optometrists, and vice president of Aston Optometry Society. ‘I’m quite outgoing and organised and I like variety,’ she explains. ‘I like meeting new people, doing different things and studying at the same time.’

After looking at all the pre-reg programmes, she chose Specsavers for her pre-reg year as she was interested in the company’s commitment to enhanced optical services (EOS). ‘There’s so much going on in terms of enhanced optical services, and hospital-standard optometry moving into the high street,’ she says. ‘I also felt the structure for the Specsavers pre-reg programme was the best.’

Her directors at the Daventry store, Satvinder Soomal and Daljit Purewal, have encouraged her to pursue further training opportunities: she now has Level 2 WOPEC accreditations in MECS (minor eye conditions service), cataract and glaucoma, as well as OCT (optical coherence tomography) accreditation.

Bhargavi Zinzuwadia shows Optometry Essentials study guide to Daventry partner Satvinder Sooma

‘My experience has been brilliant so far,’ she says. ‘It’s the right environment for me. All the clinicians at the Daventry store have the same sort of clinical enthusiasm, which makes it fun. We have discussions and share case scenarios each week. The OCT machine is really good and I wouldn’t want to work without it now. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my patients and also working on other projects like Optometry Essentials. It’s a varied experience.

‘I’m particularly interested in pathology, contact lenses, anterior eye and binocular vision. In the future I’d like to do further training – possibly contact lenses or a Professional Certificate in Medical Retina. I’m hoping to stay with Specsavers but at the same time perhaps do some hospital work to build my clinical knowledge, or perhaps work on other projects like Optometry Essentials. I’m looking forward to building my experience and learning from different things.’

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