“I am enjoying the day-to-day business of practice life”
Pre-registration optometrist at Julian Davies Opticians, Peter Grant, on in-person assessments, virtual hospital experiences and looking ahead to the OSCEs
I am writing this article only a few days after my Visit 3 assessment, which was actually my first ‘in-person’ assessment of the Scheme for Registration. Although a face-to-face examination has its own pressures, I think I preferred it to the many Zoom video call issues we have all come to know so well throughout the pandemic.
Assessing in personThis assessment was my first opportunity to demonstrate my practical skills to my assessor and show that I was competent in the test room. It involved direct observation of a full sight test on a real patient, as well as ophthalmoscopy, contact tonometry, tear film assessment, a soft contact lens fit and insertion and removal of a soft lens, all on a member of staff.
The trickiest skill to perform was ophthalmoscopy as I have rarely used it this year. This is mainly because I prefer the wider field of view when using a Volk lens with slit lamp biomicroscopy, but also because the inability to socially distance from the patient with ophthalmoscopy has led to it being used sparingly. Thankfully, with a bit of practice and revision, I passed this competency.
Although a face-to-face examination has its own pressures, I think I preferred it to the many Zoom video call issues we have all come to know so well throughout the pandemic
A variety of patientsI am enjoying the day-to-day business of practice life, with more and more people venturing outside their homes for routine sight tests since the easing of lockdown restrictions.
One of my more interesting recent patient encounters was with a young man who had a prosthetic eye, having suffered from retinoblastoma as a child. I also saw my first case of asteroid hyalosis, which was fascinating.
Over the past month I have had the opportunity to accompany my supervisor on domiciliary visits in the local care home and in the community. This has been an invaluable experience as it has taught me the importance of being adaptable outside of the test room and choosing tests that will give me useful results. Most of the time these visits involve providing elderly patients with an updated prescription to ensure they can carry out their daily tasks comfortably and checking that there has been no progression in any pathology if present.
Virtual hospitalIn a typical pre-registration year, I would have a two-week hospital placement where I would get the opportunity to sit in on hospital eye clinics as well as ophthalmology specialities. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, this placement has not been possible, so I have been completing the virtual Hospital Eye Service experience through the College of Optometrists’ website. Nine modules must be completed in total, which all involve a wide range of webinars, interviews, videos, and interactive resources. I particularly enjoyed the low vision interactive seminar, which I attended virtually over Zoom with other trainees from across the UK.
Over the past month I have had the opportunity to accompany my supervisor on domiciliary visits… it has taught me the importance of being adaptable outside of the test room and choosing tests that will give me useful results
Now that I have completed Visit 3, I am nearing the end of Stage 1 of the Scheme for Registration. I hope to complete Stage 2 in time for the September Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs), but it will be touch-and-go as to whether I am ready by the cut-off date in August.
As of next week, my appointment times will be reduced further, with the aim of seeing nine patients a day. This is a step in the right direction to one day managing my own diary with half hour appointments and I am looking forward to the challenge.