CET and skills guides

Study and gain CET points through OT’s online CET exams, and access archived CET, CPD articles and skills guides in our education library

Find out more

Science and vision

News and features about the latest scientific developments and advances in optometry, ophthalmology and eye medicine

Find out more

Professional support

News and features about the latest developments relating to professional support from across optics. This includes updates from optical organisations such as the AOP and the GOC

Find out more


Explore the latest UK and global jobs in the optical sector for optometrists, dispensing opticians and more

Find out more

Life as a locum

Staying organised as a locum

Locum optometrist, Gautam Passi, discusses building a rapport with the practice team and how being organised is of upmost importance


The night before: Preparation starts the evening before my locum shift when I plan my transport and travel route to the practice that I will be working at the following day. Preparing in advance in this way ensures that I am always on time. Generally, I tend to use Google to plan my route and check if and where parking is available. This dictates what time I set my alarm and get up in the morning. Being organised is an important part of being a locum.


7.30am: I wake up, shower, get ready and leave for work. My preferred mode of transport is driving as I have more control. Before I leave the house, I check that I have my equipment bag, which contains my Volk lens, trial frame, flippers, ophthalmoscope and retinoscope. I also have a stamp with my General Optical Council and Ophthalmic Performers List numbers on. I use this particularly when I’m in a practice that keeps paper records or that does not have a printer; it saves me having to sign my details repeatedly. I don’t have to check the contents of my bag each morning because I make sure that I do these checks before leaving the practice visited last. Through experience, I have found it much easier to perform my checks in this order so that I am simply ready to go the following day. Then I’m ready to set off.

I don’t want to be writing all my referrals at the end of the day when I am tired and rushed for time when the practice is closing and people want to go home


8.30am: On arriving at a practice, I start by introducing myself to the manager or director so I can begin to build a rapport. I will also introduce myself to every member of staff who is around; I find that being friendly means that people are more supportive and approachable during the day.

I will then take time with the manager to ask any questions I have to ensure that I can meet their needs and requirements for the day ahead, clarifying what my role will be in the process. The types of questions that I like to ask include whether I will be doing pre-testing, if they have a preferred method for handovers and if they have any offers that I should be aware of, for example.

Finally, I will get a login, sign myself into the practice’s system and take a few minutes to get comfortable. I lay out my equipment in the order that I will need it and wait for my first patient.

1pm: I normally take my lunch with me. However, I make sure that I eat in the lunchroom, if there is one, with the practice team. I do this because is it nice to get to know the staff and build rapport with them. Having this connection can be both useful on the day and if I return for another locum day in the future. I know a lot of locums who sit in their room and have lunch, but I prefer to spend that time talking with staff as it will only benefit my career.

Throughout the day: I make sure that I complete my referrals when necessary after each patient I see. I do this systematically and, if I am tight on time, I always try to ensure that I catch up before taking my lunch. I don’t want to be writing all my referrals at the end of the day when I am tired and rushed for time when the practice is closing and people want to go home.

I make sure that I eat in the lunchroom with the practice team when there is one. I do this because is it nice to get to know the staff and build rapport with them


5pm: Before leaving a practice, I always check with the person in charge to see if there is anything that they need me to sign, such as General Ophthalmic Services forms. I make a point of asking this question so that it doesn’t lead to problems the following day.

I also like to thank the team and say goodbye. I will sometimes leave a business card behind, which is useful for the practice in case it wants to get in touch to book me again, as well as for invoicing purposes.

  • As told to Emily McCormick.