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Life as a locum

Defining a routine

Locum optometrist, Hassnain Safdar, shares insight into his day in the life experiences as a locum over the last three months

04 Nov 2019 by Hassnain Safdar

9pm: My day begins the night before when I plan my journey to the practice that I am working at the following day. This includes where I will be able to park and how long it will take me to get to the practice from my car. I use a navigation app called Waze that keeps you updated on traffic as you are driving and updates you on what time you will get there. 

I also visit the Local Optical Committee Support Unit website to find out a little bit more about the local criteria and referral information on the area that I am heading to. I will make a note of any useful information and follow this up with the practice manager or a resident optometrist when I arrive if I have further questions.

7am: I set two alarms to ensure that I am not late. I get up, have breakfast and get ready for work. Before I leave the house I check to make sure that my equipment, such as my retinoscope and my ophthalmoscope, is fully charged and put them in my bag along with my diary. In terms of the equipment that I take with me, I work on the assumption that the practice has nothing. Therefore, I take all of the equipment that I own with me because that way I feel comfortable that I have everything I need in order to perform to the best of my ability on that day.

7.45am:
I set the practice postcode into the navigation app that I use and set off on my drive to work.

“I think that introducing yourself to the practice team is key to ensuring that your day runs nice and smoothly”


8.45am: I arrive at the practice 15–20 minutes before I am due to start and introduce myself to staff. I think that introducing yourself to the practice team is key to ensuring that your day runs nice and smoothly.

I then go into the testing room and check that everything is working. I also clean down all the equipment before I start because I don’t not know who used the room before me and I want to ensure that everything is nice and clean for myself and the patient.

Once I am set up in the testing room, I will return to reception to speak to staff about local referral criteria and enhanced services, and make sure I find out where the bathroom is and confirm when my lunch break will be.

9am: I am testing.

1pm: I ensure I always take a lunchbreak, which is normally 40 minutes. During my lunch, as well as eating, I will make sure that I take a walk and get some fresh air. I find this really important because as a locum you can get lost in your day and you need that space to refresh mentally so that you are prepared for the afternoon testing

“Before I leave the house I check to make sure that my equipment, such as my retinoscope and my ophthalmoscope, is fully charged and put them in my bag along with my diary”


5pm: As a locum you need to keep on top of referrals and follow-ups and check if they have been done. Throughout my day I will make a note of the patient ID when necessary, alongside a note of the requested tests. Once the tests have been done and showed to me, I will put a tick by the patient’s name and then I’ll put another tick by their name once I have updated their notes on the outcome. After I have seen my last patient, I will go through my notes and make sure that all patient IDs have two ticks next to them. I have got into a routine of checking further results as and when they are ready during the day so this simply works as a final crosscheck.

9pm: Having arrived home earlier, towards the end of my evening I shall begin my research for the next day once more.

Sundays: As a locum there is a percentage of time that you have to set aside for admin. I tend to set aside an hour or so every Sunday for this. I have an excel spreadsheet that I use to keep track of work and invoicing. This is really important for financial and accountancy purposes so that you can track where you are going and the mileage that you are doing, as well as your invoicing and if payment has been received.

  • As told to Emily McCormick.

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