“I was delighted to get a confirmed start date”
After months of disruption to his studies, newly-graduated optometrist Peter Grant tells OT how excited he is to begin his pre-reg placement
Fast forward two months, and I sat my final exams online in my bedroom. The exams themselves were open book and had been altered from previous years in order to assess our understanding and application of knowledge rather than just regurgitating facts that could be easily found in our notes. We had a 24-hour window to upload our completed paper to limit the effects of any technical problems and take into consideration international students in different time zones.
Throughout lockdown the university did an excellent job keeping all of us up to date with any developments regarding exams, graduation and pre-reg via webinars. They also organised revision webinars in the weeks leading up to exams for any last-minute questions and queries concerning the new format of the online assessments.
Thankfully, I passed all my exams under the strangest of circumstances and graduated, albeit virtually, with the class of 2020. I look forward to the real graduation in summer 2021, when we can celebrate properly.
I could never have imagined entering the working world in the midst of a global pandemic
My pre-reg was due to begin the first week in August, however, COVID-19 led to it being postponed by a month. There had been uncertainty as to whether enrolling on the pre-reg scheme would even be possible this year, so I was delighted to get a confirmed start date.
When considering where to do your pre-reg I think it is important to keep your options open and assess all possibilities, whether that be a multiple, independent or hospital placement. Having previously worked as an optical assistant in a large multiple, I was interested in experiencing an alternative working environment and therefore decided to seek a pre-reg position in the independent sector. After a successful interview way back in second year, I secured my pre-reg with an independent optician based in South Wales.
Organising my pre-reg before starting final year at university allowed me to concentrate on my studies and not worry about future employment. The practice group I will be working for, Julian Davies Opticians, is well established with several store locations in South Wales, one of which, St Mellons, I will be based at. I have found the staff very friendly and the practice owner has been particularly helpful during the uncertainty of lockdown. At the time of my interview, the practice had a pre-reg optometrist so I felt reassured that they would be familiar with the current scheme for registration and have the experience and resources to support me through the year.
Now that pre-reg is just around the corner, I am excited to get started. It has been nearly six months since I had any patient interaction, so I am looking forward to working with the public again, albeit under stranger circumstances. I could never have imagined entering the working world in the midst of a global pandemic. However, I am eager to put into practice the clinical skills and knowledge I have learnt from my time at university and improve and adapt these skills for today’s current climate.