“Obtaining a second opinion has been invaluable”
Pre-reg optometrist at Vision Express in Chiswick, Rochelle Anderson, explains the value of the pre-reg supervisor relationship
My pre-reg placement has helped me become a more well-rounded, independent clinician. It has given me hands-on experience, which has increased my skills and my depth of knowledge. Through increasing my confidence when dealing with certain patients, such as young children or those with binocular vision abnormalities, I have become a more competent pre-reg optometrist.
I really do appreciate the patience and courtesy people have offered me
Additionally, during this placement I have worked effectively as a new team member within an established team at my store. I have learnt how to communicate well with work colleagues regarding dispensing queries, seeking advice on how to dispense high prescriptions, sorting out vouchers, and ordering lenses.
When I worked in previous stores, I always acknowledged the need for everyone to play their role in the store – that is required to make the day and the patient experience run smoothly. However, now I’m a pre-reg optometrist I really do appreciate the patience and courtesy people have offered me, and how they have allowed me time to organise my patient records and care.
Patient interactionsMy day-to-day experience has varied. There have been many times when I have not known what type of patients will come through the door. Emergency patients, those with acute eye problems, or those who have mixed up their appointment time, can walk in on the same day, and all have to be seen. These unplanned patients episodes can be fascinating and engaging. I love any patient-clinician interaction where I can make people feel comfortable enough to open up regarding their general health, lifestyle, and concerns regarding their current sight.
Working on the shop floor has given me an awareness of the daily struggles patients have with broken or faulty glasses. There are times when being on the floor has given me an opportunity to give great customer service, and to resolve any issues a patient has, whether big or small.
I love any patient-clinician interaction where I can make people can feel comfortable enough to open up regarding their general health, lifestyle, and concerns regarding their current sight
The value of supervisorsMy current supervisors are very supportive, especially as they are on hand to double check any abnormalities, queries or concerns I may have with a patient. My supervisors, which include newly-qualified optometrists who work at the practice, have all tried to make me feel comfortable and show me the interesting cases that don’t show up often. I have discussed and had support with different pathology. That has underpinned my approach to management and care, and has helped me to be able to articulate my management to the patient.
My supervisors, including newly-qualified optometrists who work at the practice, have all tried to make me feel comfortable and show me the interesting cases that don’t show up often
I have one supervisor in particular who has been helpful, and she has always encouraged me to ask questions and knock on her door if I am unsure of anything. I believe that this type of support has been invaluable, and should be available in all pre-reg placements.
Standout moments that have really surprised me have included numerous instances of alternating exotropia that I have seen within the past two months. Plus, the number of appreciative patients who have offered me chocolates and kind words within the consultation room. I also enjoy receiving positive patient feedback at the end of an examination. It makes me feel valued and appreciated, and confirms that I am giving good care.
My favourite part of the pre-reg is... gaining hands-on experience in a diverse clinical setting. We get to learn and practise a wide range of skills, from basic patient care to complex diagnosis and management of eye conditions. Working in a teaching hospital offers a unique opportunity to be close to leading research in the field, from developing technologies to innovative new treatments.
My least favourite part of the pre-reg is... the difficulty of balancing the demands of clinical practice with the intense studying and training required to gain the qualification. Being a pre-reg optometrist also means embracing a steep learning curve and striving to perform at the same level as highly qualified colleagues.
Before I started my pre-reg, I wish I’d known... about the level of organisation required in order to deal with the large number of administrative tasks. This is something I have adapted well to, but you need to ensure to make time for it on a daily basis so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Akshay Shah is a pre-registration optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London