“I am surrounded by a fantastic team”
Clinical lead optometrist at Bayfields Opticians, Diba Choudhury, discusses the opportunities she has had in a growing independent group
My first experience of optics was when I did a work experience placement in a local hospital when I was deciding on what to apply for at university.
Medicine was an option, as was optometry. In order to gain more insight, I combined them into one hospital placement. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the hospital eye department and I particularly liked how specific it was.
During my school years, I remember looking up potential career paths, including optometry, in an old occupations book, which I’m not sure exists anymore.
It detailed what the occupation involved and I could tell that optometry would offer me a real balance between medical, customer service and retail. It was a combination of all the things that I enjoyed – science, healthcare and interacting with people.
At the start, I thought that optometry was simply the eye examination.
However, I was lucky enough to complete my pre-reg in an independent practice, which opened my eyes to all the other aspects that were needed to run an opticians practice.
After my pre-reg I returned to Bradford and following a short stint with a multiple, I joined Bayfields Opticians as a group support optometrist. In this role I got to visit and work in a number of the group’s different practices, which allowed me to really get to know the business as a whole and see how the different practices attracted different clients. It was a great way to learn how to use all the different equipment and to build my confidence in testing anywhere.
As Bayfields expanded, I got the opportunity to provide maternity cover for the company’s clinical manager.
During this time, the business doubled in size and there was a need for more than one clinical manager, so I became a permanent clinical development manager. I am one of three clinical development managers that each have a specified geographical area to focus on. My role involves spending two days of my week visiting and coaching our optometrists. This one-to-one time with practitioners is invaluable so we can provide regular training and rollout developments in practice consistently. It also means that I can listen and provide guidance through their personal development goals, help them meet their objectives and support them in any projects that they have ongoing.
"I’m going from coaching very experienced optometrists to students who are right at the beginning of their career"
Coinciding with when I joined Bayfields six years ago, I also became a teaching clinician at the University of Bradford.
It’s a very different role to what I’m used to day-to-day; I’m going from coaching very experienced optometrists, to students who are right at the beginning of their career. What I love in this role is being able to teach them the key skills they need combined with the knowledge of what this will look like in the real world.
I am also a local optical committee officer, which allows me to contribute to the development on the local pathways between primary and secondary care. I got involved because I wanted a better understanding on how optometrists and ophthalmologist can work better together.
Having new clients come to see us because we were recommended by their friends and family, is the most rewarding part of my job.
This affirms that our practitioners and team are delivering clinical excellence and a fantastic service.
In terms of my career pathway, I am very passionate about upholding our clinical Skill levels and reputation as a profession in the UK, therefore I would love to contribute by working for the college of optometrists one day. My main purpose, is to help others deliver a higher level of optometry to the public, as every person’s sight is important.
I am very happy at Bayfields Opticians and lucky enough to be surrounded by a fantastic team.
Currently, I am interim clinical lead for the business. The culture of Bayfields allows you to express your ideas. It is a forward-thinking company that tries to keep pace with the evolving profession, meaning there is always scope to develop and I imagine that as we are still growing there will be many more opportunities for me to come.
I’d work as a stylist. I enjoy the fashion world and I love clothes. I go shopping with friends regularly as they value my opinion when it comes to picking a new outfit. When I get the opportunity, clients love me helping them with frame styling and their sunglasses choice.