Pre-reg focus

“Being able to apply the theory we learnt at university has been incredible”

Pre-reg optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, Akshay Shah, tells OT  about starting the search for his placement as a first year student


I had been thinking about my pre-registration placement since the start of my optometry course at City, University of London. During induction week some alumni came to talk to us about preparing for our journey in optometry. They explained that while thinking about placements in our first year may seem sudden, the application deadlines come around much sooner than expected.

The first decision I had to make was selecting the type of placement I wanted to do, so I considered all the options: from hospital placements to multiple and independent practices. I found out as much information about the different settings as I could by attending open days, as well as listening to introductory lectures to see what each placement could offer.

A helping hand

It was during a meeting with my personal tutor, where I expressed my interest in hospital optometry, that I got some great advice: to try to gain some relevant experience to see if a hospital placement would be the right fit for me. I was fortunate to obtain a part-time role as an ophthalmic technician, supporting qualified optometrists and ophthalmologists in a variety of clinics, and learnt quickly that I really enjoyed this working environment.

My tutor also advised me that the majority of applications for hospital placements would open through the NHS jobs website, but at different times of the year, so I created alert notifications to keep on top of some of the locations I wanted to apply to.

Having grown up in London, my attachment to this diverse capital meant I could only hope to secure a place here too. Moorfields Eye Hospital was the perfect choice


I remember working on my applications for weeks and making use of the university careers department. The specialist advisers there supported me on how to complete applications effectively, writing a CV, and even the cover letters that were sometimes required. After being shortlisted for some interviews, I was able to get some one-to-one mock interview sessions booked in order to prepare.

Staying in London

While I was certain I wanted to undertake a hospital placement, I was open to the idea of moving anywhere across the country to do this. However, having grown up in London, my attachment to this diverse capital meant I could only hope to secure a place here too. Moorfields Eye Hospital was the perfect choice, combining both the type of placement that I wanted, with a commuting journey that would allow me to stay in my home city.

Moorfields was also one of the first hospitals to advertise a pre-registration placement for the 2022–23 year, with applications opening about a year in advance of the starting date, so I was determined to get a placement there and thankfully was successful.

While I was warned that the pre-registration period could be quite stressful, the first few weeks did seem overwhelming initially. Luckily, I had a good support system, including reassuring guidance from my new supervisors and other pre-reg students going through a similar experience, this all helped to quickly get me settled.

I have really been enjoying the variety of clinics and wide range of patients I see on a daily basis, and being able to apply the theory I learnt at university has been incredible. Having completed my first visit of Stage one, I am really looking forward to moving on to the next few visits in order to complete Stage one, while also pushing the boundaries of my skills to a new level.