Pre-reg focus

“A hospital placement really stood out to me”

Thaksha Sritharan, pre-registration optometrist at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, reflects on securing a placement during the pandemic

Thaksha Sritharan

The process of organising a pre-reg placement can be overwhelming, especially during the pandemic as the traditional methods of job seeking have changed. The first step, regardless of the pandemic, is to research and to gather information about what pre-reg is. The next step is to research potential placements you’re interested in.

Knowing what the pre-reg entails will really help you understand what is expected of you in order to qualify, and it’ll give you some ideas of what you’re looking for in a placement. A great first step is to look at the College of Optometrists’ website and to have a look through the Scheme for Registration. If you do have a specific placement in mind, you should think about whether the placement is for you by speaking to current trainees and supervisors, and working in the environment – potentially as an optical assistant.

I wanted to be in an environment where I could always learn and be supported as a trainee


So, what’s different when it comes to organising a pre-reg placement during a pandemic? The answer is, ‘virtually’ everything. A lot of events, such as pre-reg talks organised by the multiples and the College, and open days at hospitals, are likely to be online. Interviews may also be online, so having a dependable connection to the internet is essential. Online professional platforms such as LinkedIn are also a great resource to use to find placements and can open the door to even more opportunities. Placements in ‘prime locations’ may be more challenging to come by, so being flexible with your location will really broaden your search and availability for placements.

Other things to consider when applying for pre-reg placements is to have a CV and cover letter ready to go. Universities often provide support and feedback with CV and cover letters through the careers department, so it’s very helpful to take advantage of the resource.

Choosing a location

When I was doing my pre-reg research, I quickly realised that one of the main things that I wanted out of my placement was to gain knowledge and have support. I wanted to be in an environment where I could always learn and be supported as a trainee in order to further develop my skills as a clinician. Therefore, a hospital placement really stood out to me, especially because of the learning environment. The hospital also provided the unique opportunity to work with other disciplines in the same field, and that provides more opportunities to learn from other colleagues as well.

I am most looking forward to shadowing different clinics around the hospital, such as the corneal clinic and the diabetes clinic, so that I can further learn how management decisions are made and what factors influence different treatments.