Students in...

“There are so many opportunities out there”

Femina Solomon, graduate of University of Manchester’s undergraduate Master’s, on placements in both hospital and independent practice

The University of Manchester provides an opportunity for optometry students to take a slightly different route to the Scheme for Registration, which allows students to complete an undergraduate Master’s degree in optometry. As optometry is ever-changing, research has always been a keen interest of mine and therefore this route was ideal for me.

This also provides students an opportunity to complete two different practice placements. The first placement I had was at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH), and the second placement was at an independent practice, BBR Optometry, part of Hakim Group family of independent practices.

The MREH allowed me to experience low vision clinics, fit and assess a soft RGP and scleral lenses and refract a range of patients of different ages with a variety of refractive errors. At BBR Optometry I had the opportunity to perform routine eye examinations and explore different dispensing options for a range of patients. I also experienced domiciliary optometry which was very rewarding. Alongside my placement, I completed a range of different case records, a clinical audit and I undertook several OSCEs throughout the year.

As I experienced two different optometric settings, I was expecting to find it difficult to adjust between the two, however, I received a lot of support and advice from my placement supervisors which helped me to feel at ease. I was surprised to find that certain independent practices provide equally as much in low vision services as the hospital. It was a great experience to see it in action from both perspectives.

It is important to immerse yourself in different opportunities in order to understand what is out there


I enjoyed being able to complete a clinical audit during my Master’s year at BBR Optometry as part of my degree, where I explored: ‘The investigation, counselling, and referral for myopia management in a primary care optometry practice.’ The challenging part was completing this at the same time as working full-time, however I believe that I have learnt a lot from the process, especially with developing time management skills.

I believe that being able to experience the different sides of optometry has helped me to gain valuable skills unique to each placement. I believe it has enabled me to explore the type of optometrist I would like to be in the future as I now have experience in working at both the hospital and an independent practice.

It is important to immerse yourself in different opportunities in order to understand what is out there. It is easy to read about what certain practices involve but it is a different experience when you are actually out there and doing it. You will find yourself building confidence with skills that you may not have thought you could initially complete.

I believe that this experience has helped me to learn how to manage my time when I am faced with many tasks at once. I have not only experienced hospital and independent optometry, but also the research aspect of optometry, which has sparked an interest to take it further in the future.


The setting, with Nicholas Rumney, senior optometrist and chairman at BBR Optometry

Placement: BBR Optometry, a Hakim Group independent practice
Location: Hereford, Herefordshire

How many placements or shadowing opportunities do you offer per year and for what duration?

Nicholas Rumney, senior optometrist and chairman at BBR Optometry (NR): We take on two optometry students on the Manchester MSci four-year registerable degree programme for five month placements. We have regular placements of school students for work experience, and often other optometry students in their summer holidays. Other placements are formal dispensing optician training programmes and occasions where we help other optometry pre-regs with specialised experience, such as low vision.

Why does the practice take on student optometrists?

NR: Every day is a learning day, it keeps the old dogs on their toes and the enthusiasm is infectious. Long-term, it is preparing the practitioners of the future for the world of clinical practice.