Winner: Dilesh Makwana
Newly-qualified optometrist Dilesh Makwana works in a community practice and is passionate about the future of optics.
Since completing his pre-registration year, Dilesh Makwana has thrown himself into the optical profession, attaining one of only 22 newly-qualified optometrist places in the first cohort of the Alcon Scholarship Programme, alongside working in a community practice.
Mr Makwana says the programme was a fantastic learning experience and advises other newly-qualified optometrists to pursue their development after qualification: “We have all passed university and the pre-reg, so now is the time to try and broaden your horizons... Grasp every opportunity that comes your way.”
As Secretary of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Optical Committee, he also advocates taking an interest in the optical community, saying: “It’s important to be involved in local optical matters as these help shape how optometry could be developed for the better.”
Discussing his career aspirations, Mr Makwana says he would like to pursue his interest in optical policy further: “I would love to have a position on the General Optical
Council so that I could help influence, and have a say, in the future of optometry.” He also cites interests in paediatric optometry and specialist contact lens fitting, along with an ambition to open his own chain of practices.
Mr Makwana says the opportunity to make a positive difference led him to pursue a career in optometry and he continues to be motivated by this today. Describing a patient who had a cosmetic lens fitted to conceal corneal scarring he says: “It was incredibly rewarding to see the difference in the patient during our aftercare. Further to this, his wife came in to see me and said the change in his confidence at social gatherings has been remarkable.”
The optometrist believes that patient feedback is one of the most rewarding aspects of his role, saying: “Being able to educate and help improve patients’ lives through eye care means no day goes by where you don’t feel like you hav made a difference.”
Finalist: Mo Abid
Fascinated with eyes from a young age, Mo Abid has continued to explore his passion while working as a hospital optometrist.
As part of the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital team, Mr Abid’s advice to other newly-qualified optometrists is to never stop asking questions and learning. Having completed two master’s modules, he would like to attain his optometry doctorate in the future.
Finalist: Laura Reece
Newly-qualified optometrist, Laura Reece, believes a commitment to further education will help her provide the best care possible.
Part way through her independent prescribing qualification, and having started the Alcon Scholarship Programme last September, Ms Reece believes in avoiding complacency. Setting a high level of care for every patient, she advocates treating each as if they were a family member.