Pre-reg focus

“I’ve enjoyed building rapport with my patients”

Oran O’Connor, pre-registration optometrist at Specsavers Newtownards, on preparing for Visit two and the value of his supervisor


At the time of writing, I’ve completed my Visit one and am currently studying and gathering patient records for my Visit two, which will take place on 12 January 2024.

I’ve already gained so much experience and learnt so much on my pre-reg with Specsavers. It has helped me build on the communication skills that I developed at university. This is important because I’m seeing patients with individual needs and varying circumstances.

I’ve further developed my clinical skills, applying and translating the knowledge gained at university to real life. I’ve also learned through pre-reg some of the best ways to manage patients – including having the confidence to give advice. I’m more confident in bringing patients back for dilation appointments or reviews if this is necessary.

Day-to-day variety

One aspect that surprised me about pre-reg was how different each day is. I have very different patients each day with their own individual needs, and I need to be prepared for whatever patient situation I am faced with.

Some days it may be mainly refraction, whereas on other days I might be doing more contact lens appointments. This variety has been useful for giving me experience in different areas of the job – experience that will stand by me into the future.

I also have time at the end of my day where I can ask questions to my supervisor and complete any admin or my logbook for that day. This time is very useful, as it allows me to stay on top of things.

I need to be prepared for whatever patient situation I am faced with


The value of a supervisor

My supervisor, Gareth Campbell, has been very helpful through every part of my pre-reg placement so far, supporting me in patient scenarios where I’ve not yet had much experience, and helping me learn through seeing these patients.

We chat a lot. He checks in with me to see if there’s anything I need help with, and is very supportive of my learning. I also have a great network of colleagues, who have helped me through my pre-reg to this point, making my experience smooth and enjoyable.

I’ve enjoyed building rapport with my patients and being able to help them. This has been particularly rewarding when patients have left positive reviews about me. It makes me feel like I have achieved something and gives me an extra bit of confidence.

Another standout moment has been attending the Specsavers Pre-reg Academy. I was able to meet up with old friends from university as well as pre-reg optometrists from other universities. Being there allowed me to hear about their experiences as pre-regs, as well as gaining expert knowledge from the different facilitators, which will be priceless when conducting my assessments.