Specsavers pre-registration optometrist graduate

Top 5 things that are most important to an optometry student

Yovanee Marian, optometry  graduate from the University of Plymouth is currently doing her pre-registration year in her home city. Here she tells Spectrum about what she was looking for in ‘one of the busiest years’ of her life.

Why do you want to become an optometrist?

I’ve always wanted to have a career as an optometrist as I find the profession both stimulating and challenging. It enables me to contribute to society by improving people’s vision on a daily basis. And since the field of optometry is constantly expanding, I like the idea that I will have the opportunity to specialise in the future.

What factors did you consider when deciding where to do your pre-reg?

I wanted to find:

  1. a well-known busy optical practice, where I could encounter a wide range of patients’ eye conditions, to gain as much experience as possible during my placement.
  2. A supportive team is also important to me, to learn from others experiences: from my pre-reg supervisor to the director and colleagues
  3. A well-structured pre-reg programme
  4. The opportunity to gain further qualifications once qualified
  5. A convenient location that is easy to commute

Why did you decide on Specsavers for your placement?

During the second year of my optometry degree, I did my summer placement at Specsavers in Plymouth, where I had the opportunity to work and spend one on one time with optometrists, dispensing opticians, optical assistants and lab technicians.

Despite being a large team, everyone works very well together and were extremely helpful to me. This helped me make my decision to join the team at Specsavers, as I saw first and their strong support network and the strong pre-reg programme available, as well as the opportunities that will become available once qualified.

What have been your main roles and responsibilities while on your placement?

My day-to-day duties as a pre-reg optometrist involve conducting eye examinations, contact lens assessments and aftercare appointment and dispensing spectacles under supervision. I also make sure that I record every patient I see in ‘The College of Optometrists Scheme of Registration Logbook’ throughout the day.

Have you been stretched academically during your placement?

During my pre-reg I was introduced to professional advancement courses such as glaucoma and cataract WOPEC (Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre) courses. In addition, OCT and Enhanced Optical Services (EOS) courses were available which allows me to deliver an even high level of clinical care to patients. I have found that these courses have really helped me to prepare for me for Stage 1 visits, as well as inspired me to gain further qualifications.

Do you feel as if you are using the skills acquired at university on your pre-reg?

The optometry degree at the University of Plymouth provides clinical experience from Year One and focusses on bettering clinical skills. These practical skills are no doubt essential in my pre-registration year.

Have you enrolled on any training courses while on placement? If so, which? and were they valuable to your career development?

As part of my programme, I stayed on two residential courses covering Stage 1 competencies, pathologies, contact lenses and binocular vision. I also completed online glaucoma and cataract WOPEC courses as well as OCT and other EOS courses.

What have you enjoyed most about your pre-reg so far?

Working in a large team, I like that I can discuss interesting clinical cases with our senior optometrist, and newly qualified optometrists and pre-registration peers on a day to day basis. I have a very supportive primary and secondary supervisor which makes the placement even more enjoyable. I also enjoy meeting and building rapport with patients from all walks of life and like being able to improve their quality of life.

What have you liked least?

It’s been tough working full-time while studying for the ongoing assessment and exams is challenging. However, I know it will be worth it in the end when I become a fully-qualified optometrist.

Did the clinical content on your university course prepare you for you pre-reg?

The optometry degree at Plymouth really focuses on enhancing clinical decision making and clinical skills, especially in the third year where we worked in eye clinics most days. This is definitely helping me currently in my pre-registration year.

Do you think your pre-reg has given you a good insight into what it would be like to work at an optometrist?

The pre-registration programme is very comprehensive with a broad range of learning objectives, which certainly has a thorough insight of the varying roles of qualified optometrists.

How could your employer do better?

There is still room for improvement for more effective communication between optometrists, GPs and ophthalmologists in order to provide a more positive patient journey.

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