“It feels unbelievable that a year has come around so quickly”
Holly Leitch, pre-reg optometrist at Urquhart Opticians in Kilmarnock, discusses preparing for her OSCEs and the most interesting clinical findings of her year
As i approached the final months of my pre-reg, I began to feel excited as I look towards the finish line. This year was tough, balancing studying and preparing for upcoming assessments, and working in practice full-time. It felt unbelievable that a year had come around so quickly, I am looking forward to soon having independence in my clinical decision making and to continuing to face new challenges every day.
The final hurdle
In the final months of my pre-reg my main focus was perfecting all of the skills that I learnt throughout the year, in order to prepare for the OSCE assessment. This assessment is designed to put the practical skills, communication, and knowledge to the test; therefore, every aspect must be perfected in order to be successful. On top of this my daily focuses were centred around time keeping and organisation as I moved to normal test times, and I found the key to staying ahead of this was to be prepared for what was coming through the door.
Staying on top of my studies was one of the most difficult parts of the scheme for registration: one-to-one meetings with my supervisor every week helped to hold me accountable and ensured I stayed on track at every stage.
So much of the knowledge that I had from university was taken from theory, and throughout this past year I have understood how this works in practice and in the real world
I feel I have learned more than I could have imagined. So much of the knowledge that I had from university was taken from theory, and throughout this year I realised how this works in practice and in the real world. This allowed me to become so much more competent in my knowledge, giving me confidence in my diagnosis and treatment of patients – specifically, understanding prescriptions to ensure minimal intolerance or error in refraction.
An interesting clinical finding I encountered was a case of a vitreous haemorrhage and retinal tear. This was my first ever view of a retinal tear and first time seeing tobacco dust through the slit lamp. This case, although a slightly stressful one for me, taught me so much about what to expect in cases like this and how to interact with the patient when a finding like this presents itself.
Another patient encounter that really sticks in my brain is a patient who was experiencing headaches due to uncorrected astigmatism. After receiving his glasses, the patient’s symptoms were totally relieved. I feel being able to solve the problems patients are having is the most gratifying part of this career and makes all the stress of exams and assessments worthwhile.
Being able to solve the problems patients are having is the most gratifying part of this career and makes all the stress of exams and assessments worthwhile
Throughout the past year I engaged in Johnson & Johnson Vision STEP pre-registration programme, as well as the Optom Academy pre-reg courses. These helped me at all stages of the Scheme for Registration, and I felt they were invaluable in preparing me for the final stage. Both programmes provide a mock OSCE course with feedback. I feel a practical simulation of the assessment style helped immensely in my preparation for the July sitting. As well as this I used the College of Optometrists website and reviewed all the previously assessed competencies in order to maintain my knowledge of the wide range of conditions, treatment and management options.
As I enter the final months of my pre-reg year… I’m feeling good about the career I’ve chosen. I think it is both challenging day-to-day and rewarding, and I can see myself enjoying what I do for a long time.
My key focus at the moment… is putting into practice all I have learnt over my pre-reg year and at university, and committing the information to my long-term memory.
My most interesting patient so far… was an elderly lady who was living with dementia. The encounter forced me to use different communication techniques, and to make sure my routine was patient-focused.
Caroline Mansfield is a pre-reg optometrist at Specsavers Haverfordwest, Wales