“I feel a sense of responsibility to help the next generation of optometrists”
Susan Bowers, optometrist and AOP councillor, tells OT why supporting a pre-reg is so important for her practice
The pre-reg starting at my practice this year will be my 14th pre-reg. I like to give young people the opportunity to learn and progress, just like I did. I feel a sense of responsibility to help the next generation of optometrists to develop, and I want to pass on all my skills before I retire.
Many years ago I helped pre-regs pass their contact lens preliminary qualifying examination (PQEs) for Dollond & Aitchison. I had 13 in one year and they all passed.
We need people to carry on independent practice and if they see all the benefits of independent optometry they will want to work in one
Now I like to promote independent optometry and its benefits to young optometrists. Sadly, a lot of practices are too small and only have one consulting room. In our case, we relocated to bigger premises over twenty-five years ago and that is when we started helping the students to qualify.
We need people to carry on independent practice and if they see all the benefits of independent optometry they will want to work in one, and even eventually buy their own practice.
In the past, we have had difficulty persuading patients to see the pre-reg optometrists, but we have decided to offer free OCT and think that might be very popular. Patients are very impressed by the training aspect and they like to help the pre-regs to learn and qualify.
Zac Smith starts his pre-reg with us this September. Recently, he has been playing the role of optometric assistant, waiting to start his delayed training. But I know he will hit the ground running when he starts his training, having understood other roles within the practice.
At the moment he is an invaluable member of the team in helping with the telephone triage before the examinations to reduce contact time inside the consulting rooms.
I think that pre-reg optometrists will be crying out for jobs in this uncertain climate, having worked three years to gain a degree. I would really urge any colleagues with the room and the ability to please rescue them.
As told by Kimberley Young.