“My confidence in taking on more complex patients has grown”
Pre-reg optometrist at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Thaksha Sritharan, on organising her competencies six months in
Thaksha Sritharan, Holly Leitch
10 April 2022
A varied scheduleIt is six months since I started my pre-reg position at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. Compared to the beginning of my pre-reg, I feel more settled in and I understand my role as a trainee. I also see how the Scheme for Registration is training me to become a better practitioner. For instance, a competency that you need to look out for will act as a reminder to ask questions in history and symptoms.
My day-to-day schedule at the hospital changes between different clinics in the morning and afternoon, which is nice because I have variety in my week. I have a three-week rotating timetable. Throughout the week I see patients in the core, dispensing and paediatric clinics. Most of my time is spent in the core clinic, where I build up my refraction, contact lens and low vision skills. I also have clinics that I can shadow during the week, such as the macular treatment centre, glaucoma clinics, optometric lead glaucoma assessment, cataract clinics, paediatric low vision clinics, and emergency eye department clinics.
Due to having a timetable, my pre-reg schedule hasn’t changed much, however my confidence in taking on more complex patients has grown. I know I will be fully supported by my supervisors no matter how complicated the case, so I am always up for a challenge in order to learn more from the experience.
A new city for pre-regI am confident in my decision in terms of location. I went from studying optometry in London as an international student to moving to Manchester to complete my pre-registration. The change in location was something I was looking forward to, because I wanted to see more of the UK. In addition, getting the placement at the hospital really confirmed my choice in terms of location because I knew I would have a unique pre-registration experience in an excellent environment for learning and training.
Reviewing a competency as soon as you have found a suitable record is a great way to keep on top of studying
Moving to a new city did bring up more things to become familiar with, however I was well supported by my colleagues and they really helped me with the transition. If I didn’t get the hospital placement I wouldn’t have shied away from leaving London – I would have chosen the location where I felt the most supported. I would recommend this way of thinking for anyone deciding between pre-reg placements, as it is a very ‘full on’ period during your early career and it will be the time where you are most susceptible to picking up habits.
Working full time and studying can be overwhelming. I find that taking it on little by little is the best way to approach it. For example, any time I see interesting pathology or I am unsure of something I note it down, and I look into it at the earliest opportunity. I find this to be advantageous as it strengthens the theory behind findings. I also think reviewing a competency as soon as you have found a suitable record is a great way to keep on top of studying as well. In order to stay organised, I often write a to-do list in my agenda. This way I can keep track of what I have reviewed and I can plan ahead. I also think it is important to destress if you are feeling particularly burnt out, with activities or hobbies you enjoy.
My favourite part of the pre-reg is… being able to apply the skills and knowledge that I have learned at university in the real world. I love the interaction with different patients every day, and helping them in any way that I can.
My least favourite part of the pre-reg is… the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the work environment: the restrictions between patient and optometrist relationships due to personal protective equipment and social distancing, as well as the additional difficulty when it comes to assessments being carried out virtually.
Before I started my pre-reg I wish I had known… how important my logbook was going to be for keeping track of the different patient types and test characteristics that I have come across, and how important it is to use as evidence at different stages throughout the registration scheme.