I was first introduced to optometry when I was eight years old and went to my local opticians for my first eye test.
I was fascinated by all of the checks that were performed on my eyes, as well as all of the different instruments that were around me when I was having the eye test. The friendliness of my optometrist also struck me, she inspired me to become an optometrist who is helpful as well as who enjoys their career.
Optometry is a brilliant career because not only do you have the clinical side of things, you have the caring aspect of it too.
You are able to change people’s lives by helping them to see clearer, ensuring they receive the relevant treatment at the right time and having them seen by the right clinician in the right setting.
Enrolling in optometry was everything that I expected and more.
There can be a lot of competition to get onto an optometry degree and I was fortunate enough to be able to study it. I enjoyed it more and more with each year of study.
“Being a Peer Support Line volunteer has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career”
I completed my pre-reg year at Dollond & Aitchison in Grantham and worked with a lovely team who provided me with such a great amount of support.
I think it is really important for pre-regs to have a supportive team around them and that they feel guided and part of the team. During this year I found OT to be a useful tool which gave me insight into the world of optometry and helped me understand what options were available to me upon qualification.
On finishing my pre-reg year, I worked for Dollond & Aitchison/Boots Opticians as a mobile optometrist travelling around different practices.
This was a crucial point in my career as it allowed me to understand what I enjoyed most about optometry, as well as where I liked working. The role could be challenging at times as I was in a different practice each day, but I quickly grew to find that what I most enjoyed was the clinical side of being an optometrist.
My passion for the clinical aspect of optometry led me to enrol on a post-graduate course in medical retina at Cardiff University once I had been qualified for two years.
The course was one-year of distance learning that taught me all about medical retina, optical coherence tomography and diabetes. I think higher qualifications are important for optometrists as this is the way that shared care and extended roles are developing. More and more patients are being discharged to optometrists for care in the community. It is important that we understand how to perform this extended role, as well as interpreting tests that we may not have learnt about at university which are revolutionising the way that we practise today.
“Each day changes are being made within optometry and it is brilliant to know the leaps and strengths that the vocation has to offer”
I am currently a volunteer for the AOP’s Peer Support Line which is celebrating its second anniversary this year.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the original cohort of volunteers. Our aim is to provide a platform that optical professionals can use to have a confidential chat about any concerns that they have. After each volunteer session you are able to debrief with a volunteer colleague to help you unwind from the day; some days can be a little more challenging than others.
Being a Peer Support Line volunteer has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career.
I enjoy being able to help and support people through what they may find a very difficult or tricky situation. It is brilliant that the AOP provides this service for the profession.
In terms of career aspirations, I would like to become even more involved in shared care in the future.
Being able to look after patients in the community is important because I feel they are less scared and worried when they are treated and managed in a primary care setting. With the scope of optometry advancing, it feels that each day changes are being made and it is brilliant to know the leaps and strengths that optometry as a vocation has to offer.