What I have learned

A supportive shoulder

Optometrist, Abbi Vasanth, and regional optical lead and professional development tutor at Vision Express, Roshni Patel, tell OT  what they learned from each other through their pre-reg and supervisor relationship

Roshni Patel

What happened during your first meeting?

Roshni Patel (RP): I needed to identify if Abbi could think outside the box and talk things through logically, which is key for a trainee. If you’re in a situation with a customer and it’s not possible to pinpoint the issue straight away, you can easily panic and lose confidence if you can’t approach things logically. When that happens, a patient can lose trust in you. I could see that Abbi possessed that quality immediately, plus she is confident, articulate and friendly, which was exactly what I was looking for in a pre-reg.

Abbi Vasanth (AV): I had worked with Roshni before because I used to be an optical assistant at the Oxford Vision Express store. Therefore, I felt comfortable with asking her how she would feel about supervising me. I had also met the previous pre-reg she supervised and I was able to speak to her about how Roshni works and how she is with assessments and the entire process – that was really useful and helped make me feel at ease. The pre-reg process is made so much easier if you get on well with your supervisor like I did.

"The key thing to remember when you're struggling and it seems impossible, is that you will get there in the end with their help and it will be so rewarding"

Roshni, how important is it to offer pre-reg trainees guidance during the year?

RP: Providing guidance is paramount. Plus, the supervisor needs to provide professional and also emotional support to the trainee. They can often feel like they’ve got the whole world on their shoulders, they sacrifice their social life and they’re constantly comparing themselves with their peers – it’s a very tough year.

Abbi Vasanth and Roshni Patel

Abbi, how have you applied Roshni’s advice to the way you practise?

AV: Roshni’s confidence in me and the feedback she provided when she was supervising my eye examinations and consultations was so helpful. If I ever doubt myself, I try and tell myself that if I keep to the same routine I learned with Roshni, I know I’m doing things right. Plus, the professional development aspect of the job doesn’t stop after you’ve passed. At Vision Express you have access to ongoing training opportunities.

RP: Being a pre-reg supervisor has definitely changed my temperament for the better. I’ve never been the most patient person – I’ve always wanted an answer there and then – but I’ve become calmer as a result of this role. Abbi especially, is very calm and sweet, and so I feel she’s changed me as a person. I’ve mellowed out a bit more. I’ve been supervising for years, but it’s only now that I’ve taken a step back and started approaching things a little differently.

AV: I think it’s really important to have a good relationship with your supervisor because they are the person who will get you through your pre-reg year. The key thing to remember when you’re struggling and it seems impossible, is that you will get there in the end with their help and it will be so rewarding.