“Nerves just mean you care about getting a decent result”
Specsavers pre-reg optometrist, Caroline Mansfield, on how she’s preparing as the OSCEs approach
I am currently preparing for the fifth Stage 1 visit of my pre-reg, and mopping up the competencies that have slipped through the cracks along the way. It has been good to have some time to focus on the topics that I didn’t grasp the first time, and competencies that I have recently managed to get the relevant College of Optometrists indicators for.
Final hurdlesI am also thinking ahead to the OSCEs and how I need to prepare to showcase all that I have learned. I have booked onto a virtual OSCE preparation course, which I am looking forward to (if I am lucky enough to get a place) and I hope that they have some good tips for when I sit them. My supervisor loves the OSCE stage of pre-reg, and I find bouncing ideas around and revision with them and others very useful.
The practice that I work at has regular training sessions for staff to share knowledge and experiences. I like it when one of the optometrists brings a case study to get stuck into. It’s interesting to think about it from different points of view - myself as an optometrist, what might happen for a patient, what the hospital will want or need in the case of a referral. My current aim is to start viewing patient encounters from a treatment standpoint, thinking about what treatment the patient is likely to have and using that to inform my critical thinking and management in the test room.
Complex casesI have been happy completing my pre-reg with Specsavers because they have a good support network through online forums and courses. In my particular store, I’ve been able to work alongside some high-class optometrists with higher qualifications, including independent prescribing (IP). It’s been useful to see cases through to their end.
It’s been good to feel like I’m making a difference here in Pembrokeshire, which is a rural community with much of the local population relying heavily on driving to get anywhere. I am fortunate to have been able to arrange some useful and interesting work experience placements, including with Dr Maggie Woodhouse in Cardiff and Nicky Jones in my local hospital eye service paediatrics department. I hope to be able to incorporate what I have learned into my everyday practice.
As the year has gone on, I’ve realised the value of having structure and a day-to-day routine. The workload at pre-reg, in order to do everything that is required and record everything I’m doing, has had me feeling overwhelmed more than once. I’ve learned to prioritise my time more wisely in order to get more things done. It does get easier the more time you spend doing the job.
I think if I had my time over again, I wouldn’t worry about the smaller things. We all get stressed before assessments and I know that I will be very nervous before the OSCEs. It’s hard to know at the time that what you are doing is enough. If I weren’t nervous, I’d be worried, because nerves just mean you care about getting a decent result. I think if I were to do it all over again, I’d have a little more confidence that the work put in should equal the result you get in the end.
As I approach the next stage of my pre-reg I feel… time is going by quickly. Coming from university, I started out requiring a lot of support from my supervisors – but now I feel confident with my skills and that I can make management decisions myself.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far is… to trust your judgement as a clinician. All eyes are unique and come in different shapes and sizes, but throughout my pre-reg, especially at a hospital, I've learnt to identify what is healthy and normal and what requires further management.
Thaksha Sritharan is a pre-reg optometrist at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital