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From A to Optometry

Falling into optometry

First year optometry student at the University of Hertfordshire and AOP student rep, Tom Bonfield, describes his journey from trainee dispensing optician to optometry undergraduate

05 May 2019 by Andrew McClean, Laurence Derbyshire

When did you first become aware of optometry?

I first became aware of the profession when I started working in a practice three years ago as a trainee dispensing optician. I qualified last September and then started studying optometry. Optometry was never really on my radar and unlike most people in this industry, I completely fell into it. However, I’ve really found a passion for the industry and I love everything about it.

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

Working in practice gave me a good opportunity to see what goes on the shop floor as well as gaining insight into the testing room. I saw that and was really inspired to continue my education and develop in the industry.

Watch Tom Bonfield explain what led him to choose a career in optometry

Who influenced you to go into optometry?

A lot of the people who I’ve worked with including dispensing opticians, optometrists and locums. I have met so many people who I aspire to be as good as one day.

What are your career goals?

I’d like to go into academia and become a university lecturer. I’ve already got plans to start my PhD, which is a bit ambitious considering I’m in my first year, but that’s where I can see my career going at the moment.

“I have met so many people who I aspire to be as good as one day”

What are the challenges of your university course?

The main challenges have been going from working full-time to becoming a student. It took a bit of time to get used to that lifestyle, but I’ve figured it out now. 

What have you learned from your in practice experiences so far?

It has given me a huge amount of confidence when talking to people and helping to deal with their problems. It has cemented how much I really enjoy this profession.

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