What stage of your career are you currently at?
I have started my pre-reg this month at Specsavers in Hastings.
When did you first become aware of the profession?
I first became aware of the profession when I was roughly 10 years old. I was having difficulty seeing the board at school and was getting headaches. My GP was the first to tell me to get my eyes checked.
What were the main reasons you wanted to become an optometrist?
I have known that I wanted to be involved in the healthcare field from a young age. After my undergraduate biology degree, I decided to shadow different healthcare professionals. After shadowing my optometrist for a few weeks, I noticed that I really enjoyed the patient-practitioner interactions and the working environment. I knew this was a perfect career path for me as I would be able to give back to the community and pursue a career in healthcare.
What are your career goals?
Once I have gained experience in my pre-reg year, I plan to open up my own independent practice. I am also interested in gaining accreditation in paediatric care and look to further my knowledge in glaucoma and independent prescribing.
“It is a great way to explore a different working environment and it may even help you secure a pre-reg placement”
What were the main challenges of the university course?
I found that organisation is key when undertaking the optometry degree. There is a lot of information packed into every lecture and at times it can seem very challenging. I have learned that time management, specifically creating study schedules, is a great way to keep on top of your work. Due to the heavy work load in the optometry programme, I found that balancing good grades and maintaining a social life was difficult. However, I find it extremely important to maintain a good friendship group and to escape the optics world once in a while. Doing this helped me recharge and remain motivated throughout my degree.
What placements have you carried out so far, and what have you learned?
I was fortunate enough to undertake a placement at St. Thomas’ Hospital in which I was able to sit in and observe the glaucoma and paediatric clinics. From this I learned a lot about hospital optometry and the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation and teamwork.
I also undertook a five-week summer placement with Specsavers in Hastings, which taught me a lot about what to expect during my pre-reg year and allowed me to become familiarised with their note taking system and daily routine.
I would suggest doing a summer placement to all optometry students as it is a great way to explore a different working environment and it may even help you secure a pre-reg placement.
Furthermore, as a part of our optometry programme at City, University of London, we attend four sessions at Moorfields Eye Hospital, which were very valuable. I saw many common and uncommon surgeries, which deepened my understanding of hospital care and will help me explain typical procedures, such as cataract surgery, to my future patients.
“It gives me motivation to work harder and gives me that extra push to achieve personal goals in order to become the best optometrist that I can be”
What has your experience of Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) been?
I completed a set of OSCEs at City. The main challenge I found during my university OSCEs was staying calm and collected during each station. If you don’t stay calm, it is really easy to miss important information. Furthermore, if one station didn’t go as well as expected, it is easy to carry that mentality to the next station and therefore it is really important to recollect after each stage. I am grateful to have experienced the OSCE format before my pre-reg OSCEs as now I have a better idea of how to prepare and what to expect.
You recently won the Mad Sam’s Memorial Award at City, University of London. What does it mean to be recognised for your work?
“Mad Sam” was an international student from Denmark studying optometry at City. He passed away due to a motor accident and his parents decided to set up a memorial award for him. The prize goes to an international student who has the highest overall mark and is based on obtaining an average mark of 69% or greater. It means a lot to me to be recognised for my work. It gives me motivation to work harder and gives me that extra push to achieve personal goals in order to become the best optometrist that I can be.