The optical assistant's take
Zoe Harrison shares insight into developing your clinical skllset as an optical assistant
05 March 2019
What's your role?
I have been working in practice since 2012, having worked in the domiciliary field for a couple of years prior to moving to an in-practice role as an optical assistant. I am currently in my second year of training as a student dispensing optician via distance learning.
How long have you been using an OCT?
I have been using an OCT for about two years now. Alongside other members of the front-of-house team, I am responsible for explaining to patients about what is involved and taking scans for the optometrist to review.
Zoe's tips for OAs who are learning how to perform OCT scans
- Ask the optometrist for a few key points about explaining OCT to patients
- Don’t be scared to ask questions
- Practise on your colleagues first. And then practise some more
- Avoid using jargon when explaining the process to patients
- Make sure that the patient is relaxed and positioned comfortably
- Make the patient aware when exactly the scan will happen so they can get comfortable and blink a few times beforehand
- Write a short script of what you want to say and rehearse it until you feel comfortable with it
- Avoid commenting on the results even if they look normal.
What have you found most challenging about this aspect of your role?
In the beginning, I found that explaining the process to the patient was difficult and describing what an OCT scan entailed in simple language took some refining. Patients sometimes ask quite tricky questions about what the scans mean, and I can feel out of my depth – it is important to remind myself to be honest when I don’t know the answer and defer to a clinician where necessary. With experience I have developed more knowledge on OCT scans and really enjoy the clinical aspect of this work.
Other articles in this series
- The ABC of OCT: Dr Louise Terry offers a back-to-basics guide
- 'Selling' the OCT concept to patients: Dr Neelam Patel's three points that every practice team should consider
- Fact from fiction: From visual fields to AMD, OT gets myth-busting
- Capturing the image: Taking the right steps at the right time
- The shape of things to come: OCT is evolving and OT explores the trends
- Patient outcomes: Dr Louise Terry on how OCT devices are helping to detect eye conditions
- My take on...OCT: Our experts' predictions on what is next for OCT.