“I am working in my dream job”
Amna Wajid, pre-reg dispensing optician and student optometrist, on her interest in research and turning her thesis into an article
30 March 2022
What were the main reasons you wanted to become an optometrist?I have always known that I wanted to build a rewarding career in healthcare and make a difference to the lives of others through my day-to-day work. As a spectacle and contact lens wearer myself, I recognise the importance of excellent eye care and the profound impact that an optometrist can have on the quality of life of patients.
I have always thrived in leadership roles, and therefore aspired to build a career that would allow me to pursue my ambitions of entrepreneurship whilst simultaneously experiencing the rewarding nature of being a primary healthcare specialist. For me, optometry ticked all of these boxes and I can truly say that I am working in my dream job.
What placements have you carried out, and what have you learned from them?I have almost five years of experience working in various optical settings, including being the assistant manager of a busy independent practice, as well working in a High Street multiple. I recently undertook a voluntary placement in a hospital orthoptics department where I worked alongside orthoptists and low vision therapists to assist in the dispense of low vision aids. Throughout these experiences I have been able to work within various multi-disciplinary teams and learn the importance of a patient-centred approach to eye care. I have also been able to build a strong commercial awareness and develop my entrepreneurial and managerial skillset.
My aim is to continue to develop my clinical expertise and become the best practitioner that I can be
What led you to decide to branch out into writing your own Continuing Professional Development (CPD) article? What was the experience like?After gaining a first-class in my dissertation, I was approached by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians CPD team about publishing my work in the form of a CPD article. The article features a cross-sectional study that I carried out to investigate the public awareness of diabetes and its effects on ocular health. The research aimed to highlight how involved optical practices are in educating their diabetic patients and their efficacy in raising public awareness, with a view to enable relevant improvements to be made to the current approach to primary diabetic eye care in the UK.
This was a fantastic experience, and allowed me to explore the research aspect of optometry. I learnt how to adapt my writing style and edit my lengthy thesis paper into a relatable CPD article that would provide qualified practitioners with an opportunity to review and test their knowledge.
What’s next for you?After qualifying as a dispensing optician and optometrist, my aim is to continue to develop my clinical expertise and become the best practitioner that I can be. I believe that as the role of optometrists continues to progress, gaining further qualifications in areas such as low vision, paediatric eye care and medical retina, will allow me to specialise further and deliver the best quality of care to my patients.
In the coming weeks, I will be publishing a piece in the ABDO Clinical Hub on diabetic eye disease, and intend to continue pursuing my interest in research alongside working as an optometrist in both primary and secondary healthcare settings.
Do you have any top tips for student optometrists in studies or securing work experience?
I think that acquiring relevant optical experience is an excellent way for students to gain a greater insight into what the role of an optometrist involves. Balancing university studies alongside working in practice allows you to develop your time management skills and provides you with the opportunity to interact with a wide range of patients. This enables you to further enhance your communication and interpersonal skills, which are all key characteristics that will prove essential throughout your career. A top tip is to always have your CV and cover letter up to date so that you can easily apply to local part-time optical assistant positions, with a view to potentially staying on as a pre-reg at the end of your university studies.