A to Optometry

“Winning the 2022 FORCE EMEA final has been the best experience of my career so far”

Muskaan Hussain, pre-registration optometrist, on winning the 10th CooperVision Future Ocular Research Creativity Event (FORCE) as 2022 Student of the Year

Muskaan Hussain

How did you first become aware of the profession?

Wearing glasses from a very young age has meant that I have been exposed to the field of optics for the past 18 years. Understanding the patient journey first-hand inspired me to undertake work experience in Year 11 to see the profession from the other side.

What were the main reasons you wanted to become an optometrist?

During my school years I developed a variety of skills through extracurricular activities and volunteering, including empathy, communication and integrity. Working alongside people was at the heart of all these tasks. Optometry involves being able to combine scientific knowledge with decision making whilst communicating effectively with patients and using business skills. These were, and still are, areas I enjoy and am keen to develop further. Combining these qualities with an evidence-based profession was a path I was keen to thrive in.

What placements did you carry out, and what have you learned from your experience of optometry so far?

During my final two years of university, I became a lead volunteer for an organisation called Eye Heroes. This involved delivering interactive workshops to children aged eight–12 years old, educating them about the importance of eye health and regular sight tests. Coordinating other volunteers built on my leadership and teamworking skills, which I later transferred to working part-time as an optical assistant for a Specsavers store in my third year. This was a great way to apply my knowledge and skills from university in a real-life setting.

Even making the slightest of impacts on people continuously refreshes why I enjoy what I do


What were your expectations of the pre-reg year and how did you prepare?

I had anticipated that the pre-reg year would be a challenge – balancing work, revision and time for myself. Before starting pre-reg, I reviewed my university content and highlighted key areas that I wanted to develop further.

What reflections can you make of your pre-reg year, and what advice would you offer to other students?

So far, my pre-reg has been very eye opening. I have learnt a lot about my chosen career and also about myself. My advice for other students would be: although it can be challenging at times, growth takes place out of your comfort zone. Never be afraid to ask questions; be resilient and keep moving forward.

What is your favourite aspect of optometry so far?

Being directly involved in patient care is really rewarding; even making the slightest of impacts on people continuously refreshes why I enjoy what I do.

Do you have a career path in mind? What are your professional goals?

I am really looking forward to what the future holds – I don’t have any set plans at the moment, but I feel determined to work hard to develop myself both personally and professionally to help make a difference to people’s lives.

Healthy networks and enjoying the good moments

What has helped you settle into university, pre-reg or the workplace?

Having a supportive environment whether that be family, lecturers, colleagues, or friends. Ensuring you have a healthy network around you will help you to flourish.

Is there one thing that you wish someone had told you about optometry or pre-reg before you started?

I wish someone had told me not to be so harsh on myself and enjoy the good moments, as well as reflecting on the difficult ones.

How do you approach balancing studying and working with socialising and making time for yourself?

I have always made time for myself, whether that was at university or pre-reg. This is achieved by organising myself and planning ahead. I always believe in working hard to then be able to enjoy myself later.