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From A to Optometry

Preparing for the deep end

Second-year optometry student at the University of Plymouth and AOP student rep, Caroline Mansfield (pictured), tells OT  about her work experience so far and her future career plans

07 Jan 2020 by Andrew McClean

When did you first become aware of the profession?

I first became aware of optometry in my early teens. I was around 14 years old.

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

The majority of the residents at an elderly care home where I volunteered needed visual aids and had various eye conditions. They used to tell me about their appointments and told me how their eye care specialists improved their quality of life.

Who influenced or inspired the decision to go into optometry?

My parents encouraged me to do some work experience in the field. The members of staff in my local Specsavers store supported me, including Andy Britton and Paul Skoczek. They have also been kind enough to take me for my summer placement and pre-reg year. Adrian Murphy, from Jones & Murphy Optometrists, motivated me to pursue the career when I started my A Levels.

What are your career goals?


My current goal is to graduate with at least a 2:1. I like the idea of further education after I qualify, but for now I will be concentrating on my university work and hope to keep more doors open for me further down the road.

“I think the course has been great so far and has suited my style of learning”

What are the main challenges of the university course?

I think the course has been great so far and has suited my style of learning. There is a high percentage of practical work and being in the labs is my favourite part. My main challenge has been commuting from Plymouth to the Marjon campus, but the university is looking to rectify this so that the students can remain on the main campus in future years.

What placements have you carried out, and what have you learned from them?

I did my first-year placement in an independent practice in Saltash called Noakes Habermehl & Kerr. This was my second insight into how an independent store is run. I got the chance to observe many sight tests and contact lens appointments. They put great care and thought into each patient and allowed lots of time for each person.

What are your expectations of the pre-reg year and how will you prepare?

My expectation is to be thrown in the deep end. But with the preparation in our third-year clinics, I’m sure I will be as prepared as I can be. I hope to use the pre-reg year to continue learning and prepare myself for further education.

What’s next for you?

I have recently been offered the role of AOP student representative for Plymouth, which I’m really enthusiastic about. It’ll be great to see first-hand what’s to come in the new and exciting times for the profession. I’m also looking forward to coaching and playing for Plymouth in OpFest 2020. We’ll be looking to defend last year’s title.

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