Pre-reg focus

“Ask questions, no matter how big or small”

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital pre-reg optometrist, Thaksha Sritharan, on how stepping out of the hospital and into community practice widened her understanding of the patient journey

Thaksha Sritharan

I’m more than halfway through my pre-registration now – time is really flying by. I have completed Stage 1, and I have my Stage 2 assessments fast approaching.

During Stage 1 of my placement I had the chance to see patients in community practice, at the Specsavers Sale (Manchester) branch. This routine eye exam experience and the insightful supervision really helped me solidify my sight test routine and prepare for my Visit 3 direct observation assessment. It also gave me invaluable experience in the primary care environment. As a trainee in secondary care, normally patients in our clinic already have a diagnosis. It was good to see where the patients attend first before they get referred to hospital services.

Biggest learnings

I’ve learnt that your pre-registration experience often depends on the initiative you take with your learning, so take every opportunity to learn. Ask questions, no matter how big or small. At the end of the day, you are a trainee and you are expected to have questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

A key tool I found helpful during Stage 1 was my logbook. Entering as much information as you can about patient encounters really helps you to find records for competencies and even back-up records if need be.

There are lots of webinars available on the College of Optometrists’ website and via the AOP, and although some topics may seem advanced, as a pre-reg you can still take away key points. Don’t dismiss a webinar just because you feel the topic is too advanced or out of your reach.

Embracing complexity

As mentioned before, don’t shy away from complex patients. I found I’ve learnt the most from these scenarios, and the hospital provides many opportunities that challenge you in a positive way. During Stage 1, I came across and refracted a patient with a-38.00 prescription. If someone told me I would be doing that when I first started my training, I wouldn’t have believed them. Always believe in yourself and your ability. I’m really starting to find more confidence in my training and how far I’ve come.

With how quickly time flies, over the next few months, I hope to work towards the goal of finishing the remaining exams I have, such as Stage 2 and the objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs). I want to be prepared to not only pass my assessments but to overall become a better optometrist for my patients, and to give them the best quality of care.

Once qualifying, the next step is thinking about transitioning into becoming a newly qualified optometrist – and I’m sure that will be an entirely separate journey on its own.