“I’m enjoying it more every single day”
Pre-registration optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, Emily Mather, on finding a supportive community in her first four months
The first four months of my pre-reg have absolutely flown by. I’m enjoying it more every single day and feel like I’m becoming more confident in my ability. I’m really enjoying the hospital setting and the variety of clinics is great. Pre-reg is hard – there’s no denying that – and things in the hospital are sometimes very challenging, but I feel like I’m learning a lot every day and gaining useful experience. We’re busier in clinics than we were at the start, which is great, and we are working a lot more independently than we were initially. We’ve started taking low vision patients – which is exciting, as I can implement a lot of what I learnt at university into practice.
A culture of supportEveryone is really looking out for one another as COVID-19 has been a challenging time for everyone, which is lovely. The team of optometrists at Moorfields is huge and everyone is always making sure pre-regs are supported – not only just with pre-reg work, but emotionally and with anything else that we might be struggling with.
The supervisors also let us get really stuck in as pre-regs and now we’ve been here a little longer they’re helping us take on more complicated challenges
I have been supported by so many people at Moorfields. The great thing about the hospital is there are lots of people you can ask about so many different things, and everyone is always willing to help. I have some amazing supervisors, who sit down with me before I take a patient and talk through their existing history and any challenges I might potentially face, and how to overcome them. The supervisors also let us get really stuck in as pre-regs and now we’ve been here a little longer they’re helping us take on more complicated challenges.
Shared experiencesAnother great thing about doing pre-reg here at Moorfields is there is a little group of four of us. We can all help each other with competencies, patient records and other pre-reg queries. It’s nice to be able to talk to each other about anything we’re finding challenging. We’re all in the same boat and going through the same thing, so being able to share experiences and gain help and advice from people in the same position is invaluable.
It’s been a challenging four months of settling in, managing working full time and going home to revise in the evening. Now things are opening up a little more, London is a great place to explore. I’m desperately trying to manage my time effectively in order to make the most of the city. I have a community placement coming up too, which will be great to gain experience in another optometric setting. I’m excited for this as it will allow me to build a whole new set of skills and work within a new team. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months of pre-reg and learning even more.
I would tell my early pre-reg self to… make the most of the extra testing time you have to nail down practical techniques and iron out any areas you have trouble with. You will have some difficult days, but one bad day does not make you a bad optometrist. You’ve just got to dust yourself off and remember that you are still learning and will get better with experience.
The next thing I hope to achieve is… completing Stage 1 of the Scheme for Registration over the next couple of months by getting outstanding competencies signed off at my remaining visits. Having recently reached the required number of refractions, I hope to do the same with contact lens patient encounters as soon as I can.
My best experience of the pre-reg period so far is… it is hard to pick out one particular experience, but I have really enjoyed developing my own way with patients and the sense of achievement I feel when they leave the practice happy having been under my care. I have found the wide range of pathology really interesting and I’ve relished picking the brains of my supervisors to aid my understanding.
Peter Grant is a pre-registration optometrist at Julian Davies Opticians in St Mellons, South Wales.