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From A to optometry

Seeing patients as individuals

Third-year optometry student at Glasgow Caledonian University and AOP student rep, Hanna Diab, tells OT  about the optometrist who inspired her to swap degrees

07 Apr 2019 by Andrew McClean, Laurence Derbyshire

When did you first become aware of optometry?

I didn’t ever consider it for myself. I wanted to go into healthcare, but I didn’t know which way. I went for a sight test when I was at university studying neuroscience – I wasn’t happy with the degree and I wasn’t enjoying myself. The optometrist spoke to me about the job and what it involved. I was interested, so I started looking into it and decided it was for me.

What were the main reasons you wanted to become an optometrist?

When I was studying neuroscience in Edinburgh, it was very lab-based and theoretical. I felt that I was missing the vocational aspect and applying the knowledge. I’ve always wanted to work in a profession where I can work with people and help them. I feel that optometry is a good combination of theory and people skills.

Glasgow Caledonian University student Hanna Diab discusses why she swapped neuroscience for optometry

Who influenced you to go into optometry?

Definitely my experience at that practice. The optometrist didn’t have to take me through all the different tests. He did additional tests, such as optical coherence tomography, and explained everything to me. Knowing that I had a neuroscience background, he gave me a little bit more insight into the scans. That moment of being able to take me aside, help me and explain a bit more really inspired me. I hope that I can see each patient as an individual like he saw me.

What are your career goals?

I hope to do a bit of charity work overseas in Africa once I have gained a bit of experience. Also, just working in the community, as well as locum experience.

“I hope that I can see each patient as an individual like he saw me”

What are the challenges of your university course?

Balancing work and life is difficult. You’ve got so much studying to do – you are expected to X amount of hours for every individual module, as well as independent learning. You’ve got to have a life as well, so it’s about trying to get that balance for you to have some me time.

What in practice experience have you gained so far, and what did you learn?

I did a summer placement and did a lot of work with patients. I recognised that each patient is different. The way that you speak and deal with one patient might not work for the next. Also, being able to think on your feet and adapt to make sure that everyone is being seen as an individual.

What are your expectations of the pre-reg year?

That it is the hardest year of your life, but you learn so much. It’s going to be difficult working all day and studying at night, but I’ve heard it’s very rewarding and it seems to produce good optometrists. 

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