Working from home as a pre-reg
Pre-reg optometrist, Tamara Hasan, on how she’s adapted to working from home during the COVID-19 crisis
In my last article, I took you through a typical week at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH) as a trainee. Due to the current situation we are all facing, my working week no longer follows the same pattern as it did some months ago. As all pre-registration trainees will be experiencing, all Scheme for Registration assessments have been suspended for the time being. As only the very urgent cases are being seen at MREH, I have been working from home. Though there are uncertainties in the air which are worrying, there are many positive aspects about working from home which I would like to share with you all.
I can now dedicate reasonable time to having my patient records organised, learning my records and revising
I am in a lucky position as I have passed my Stage 1 and can now focus all my attention on preparing for Stage 2 and OSCEs. I can now dedicate reasonable time to having my patient records organised, learning my records and revising. What is also lucky is that I wrote ‘reflections’ on everything that was discussed after each of my four visits. I have been rereading these to best prepare for the “Overarching Competencies” sections of my Stage 2 exam. I make sure that I spend at least two hours each day working towards Stage 2. It has been a nice change in that I can choose when and how to spend my time to optimise my learning.
I have been given tasks to do which will be of benefit to the department, for example; collating a guide for future trainees working at MREH. I have enjoyed the process of putting together this guide along with a fellow pre-reg, as it serves as a reminder to myself of the ins and outs of working at the hospital, but it is also rewarding to know that my efforts will hopefully help future pre-regs on their journey. I also like the fact I have been given freedom over the content and layout as writing has always been a passion of mine.
It is also rewarding to know that my efforts will hopefully help future pre-regs on their journey
Since I cannot learn from seeing patients, my supervisors have been making use of Zoom to put on tutorials on a variety of relevant topics. As many of us are now learning, technology has never been a more useful tool in both work and home. I have enjoyed seeing people’s faces and hearing them give their talks, even if it isn’t true face to face interaction. Engaging in these online tutorials has stimulated my learning and helps me to immerse myself in optometry, despite not being at the hospital seeing patients day to day.
In the time when I’m not in a Zoom teaching session, I might decide to read an article or two from an optometry journal or research website. I would also recommend pre-regs check out the webinars and podcasts found on the College and the Directorate of Optometric Continuing Education and Training (DOCET) websites. I most recently listened to a podcast on migraines, which I hadn’t heard spoken about in much detail at university. There are so many resources out there for us to tap into, it just takes going online.
Engaging in online tutorials has stimulated my learning and helps me to immerse myself in optometry, despite not being at the hospital seeing patients
Now that I am at home, it can be tempting to treat it like a holiday. Doing the above work or study-related tasks have definitely helped me formulate a work environment and get into a new work routine. Having said that, it is always important to have a work-life balance, and so I try and fit in reading for leisure, working out, or even cooking, drawing or learning a song on the keyboard. I urge any pre-regs, whatever stage you are at, to make the most of your time while you can – even if you are still seeing patients.
My fondest memory of the pre-reg period so far is testing a three-year-old’s sight and building a lovely rapport while singing Frozen to keep her engaged. At first, she was incredibly reluctant to have her eyes tested, due to previous bad experiences in other health care areas. She required a double appointment as she'd tried other opticians and had no luck. Once I discovered her love of Disney, she found the test so much more enjoyable and never wanted to leave. It's times like these that reaffirms my love of health care. She pops in to say hi if ever her family come in, and always requests to see me.
Being a pre-reg during the coronavirus outbreak has been challenging to say the least. Working up to Stage 2 and seeing the final goal of qualifying so close, only to be postponed due to restrictions from COVID-19, is devastating - though is for the best given these tough times.
During my time furloughed I have been trying to keep on top of revision. When the scheme has been suspended and there’s uncertainty of when it will resume, this lowers motivation. A fantastic resource called Optotutor decided to give away free webinars on preparing for Stage 2. Students who are most involved during the sessions are awarded free analysis of records presented at Stage 2. This has been great motivation for revising and preparing for the next part of pre-reg.
Daniel Chung is a pre-reg optometrist at Specsavers in Cribbs Causeway, Bristol.