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CPD author Q+A

“I am regularly pushed out of my comfort zone”

Preeti Singla on carving out a ‘portfolio career,’ maintaining a work-life balance and going beyond her comfort zone

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Getty/Tempura

Tell us about your role…

My current role is a mixture of clinical and non-clinical work. Three days a week I work as the optometry and the low vision engagement manager for the Royal National Instiute of Blind People (RNIB). The main focus of my job is improving the quality of low vision care in the UK and helping to support eye care practitioners by developing a low vision service quality framework, training modules and other professional resources. The other two days I work in hospital clinics and have a special interest in glaucoma and low vision.

Why did you become an optometrist?

At school my passion was science and, after a couple of summer work placements, optometry seemed like a good choice. It let me combine my love of biology and physics with a chance to help and connect with people, which seemed to suit my skill set well – I do love a good chat.

What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in your career to date?

My biggest challenge so far has been creating a good work-life balance, which at this stage in my life is really important. Having worked hard to develop a ‘portfolio career,’ I finally feel I am close to that now. I feel challenged by all the roles that I do and I am regularly pushed out of my comfort zone, but I can still carve out time for the other important things in my life.

Who inspires you?

I am lucky to work with two amazing role models – my manager at the RNIB, Louise Gow, and consultant ophthalmologist, Anna Mead. They have shown me that you can work hard and achieve great things, but still be kind and compassionate. They are a constant reminder of the person I strive to be.

What advice would you give newly-qualified optometrists?

Try to get a wide variety of work experience. It will improve your confidence and your CV and help you identify the parts of the profession that you are most passionate about.

Tell OT about one of your hobbies…

After a nine-year break I have got back in to running again. I don’t run far – I do two 5km runs a week as timewise that’s all I can manage. But it does feel very satisfying being able to achieve that again after so long. I built up using the Couch to 5K app – I highly recommend it.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just started reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. Sometimes these classic stories become so familiar you can forget that you’ve never actually read them.

Tell OT something unexpected about yourself?

I didn’t learn to swim confidently or ride a bike until I was an adult.

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