When I was younger and the prospect of leaving school loomed, I remember the mix of excitement and nervousness I felt as I embarked on making those pivotal ‘lifelong’ decisions – should I leave education or continue onto university? If I leave, what will I do, and if I stay, what will I study?
With this also came the realisation of the vast number of career options available beyond being a vet, firefighter or air hostess – aspirations that occupied my thoughts during my younger years.
Since making those decisions, what I have learned during my career so far is that the options you have within any given sector, however large or niche, don’t stop at the point you decide on what career path you wish to take.
Take optometry for example: once qualified, you could choose to carve out a career in the hospital sector, put on your business brain and open your own practice, or even opt for an industry setting, to name but a few options.
What I have also realised is that the learning never stops – there is always an opportunity to advance yourself professionally. For optometrists, advancement opportunities are aplenty. From CET and specialist qualifications in glaucoma or cataract, to up-skilling to become an independent prescriber like our multimedia clinical editor, Ceri Smith-Jaynes.
Practitioners in England could, of course, also choose to add another string to their bow by becoming MECS-accredited.
As a relatively new professional development option, earlier this year OT ran an article that aimed to demystify the MECS accreditation process, with authors Trevor Warburton and Matt Jinkinson highlighting why practitioners should get accredited.
Many practitioners are already embracing the opportunity to upskill in this way, with Specsavers announcing just yesterday that it has supported more than 2000 of its optometrists through MECS accreditation.
Whatever path your career takes you, you certainly don’t have to be defined by your testing room.
Thinking about practitioners and business already standing out from the crowd, the shortlisted nominees for the AOP Awards 2017 will be revealed in the October edition of OT. You can vote for your winners from 30 September.
For more information and to read more about this year’s nominees, visit the AOP website from 30 September.