A to Optometry

“I set myself a rule that I was going to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity”

Anusha Hussain, second year optometry student at Anglia Ruskin University and AOP student rep, on the eye examination that sparked her interest in the profession

Anusha smiles by a plain wall wearing a black and white striped top
Anusha Hussain

How did you first become aware of the profession?

I found out about the versatility of the role of an optometrist when I got my eyes tested at my local opticians. I was in sixth form and had taken science subjects but I didn't really know what I wanted to do with those. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the professional I saw had quite a lot to mention about the different opportunities in optometry, from business opportunities to clinical, and the technology that's in the field. I found that it was a great fit to combine my love of science with the other disciplines that I considered myself interested in. I did my own research, looked on different websites and gained insights from people in the field, and from there decided to go into optometry.


Who influenced or inspired the decision to go into optometry?

It was that initial optometrist I saw. I was inspired by the way he carried himself and the professionalism he displayed.

I didn't know that much about the field beforehand and that’s why, as an AOP student representative, I want to promote the optometric profession. I feel like in the scientific field, optometry is perhaps not the first career that people think about going into. If it wasn't for meeting that optometrist, I might not have been aware of that option for me. It would have been great to get more of an insight from other people had I known more about the career beforehand.

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

I think the ability to see is quite overlooked and something that a lot of us forget to be thankful for. But I think we can all agree that it makes up such a crucial part of an individual's quality of life. Sight allows us to see the beauty of the world around us and get on with our day-to-day lives without too much struggle. It would be rewarding to be able to help people to enjoy that gift with the help of my care.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the professional I saw had quite a lot to mention about the different opportunities in optometry, from business opportunities to clinical, and the technology that's in the field


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

I'm very lucky that my university has an eye clinic so it's been really good to be able to use that facility and conduct eye examinations in a supervised environment. It's quite new to me at the moment, but I am really grateful for the opportunity because it means that I get feedback on my clinical practice, and I know that will prepare me well for my pre-reg and beyond.

What is your favourite aspect of optometry so far?

I've really liked vision science. I found it challenging initially to get my head around, but once my understanding improved it’s really rewarding, because I really enjoy learning about how we see and perceive the world.

Do you have a career path in mind (for now)? What are your professional goals?

I'm open to multiple paths at the moment. However, I am keen on getting an independent prescribing qualification. I've heard quite a lot about that and I feel like it would be a great way to extend my practice and help with relieving the pressure of the NHS a little bit. I've also considered getting involved in the business side of optometry. For example, I'd love to be the director of a practice someday.

Calling home, making the most of university life, and flexible schedules

What helped you settle into university?

I’m based at the campus, so I live away from home. Remembering that my family and friends from back home are only a call away has helped me. We live in an amazing time where technology allows us to communicate so easily, so anytime I felt homesick, I could talk it through with someone who I knew would understand. That helped me get through the first few months as I was still finding my feet. It's great to be able to build those new connections, but before I felt like those had been solidified, it was great to talk through all the new experiences I was having with someone that I knew well.

Is there one thing that you wish someone had told you about optometry before you started?

There's a lot more to optometry than the eye test and helping people pick out glasses. It is a very interesting mix of scientific principles and learning about how to be a professional.

I feel like everyone thinks that it's quite a difficult degree, and it is, but ultimately, I think it's possible to do well if you keep on top of the work and have that desire to succeed.

The time goes by very quickly. I find it hard to believe that I'm now well over halfway through my degree. I would recommend making the most of university life.

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

I like to have a to–do list or schedule, but one that isn't too rigid, so I can make time for things like activities, last minute plans, and even illness and emergencies. That allows me to have the best of everything in life without the guilt of ‘Oh, I should be doing work right now.’ Keeping that flexibility, but knowing loosely what I need to get done each day in order to stay on track.

Representing students at the AOP

What has being an AOP Student Representative involved so far and what do you enjoy about being a rep?

As an AOP student rep, I get to give feedback on how the AOP can address the concerns of UK optometry students. I enjoy that because I've always wanted to be an advocate for change and promote optometry. I enjoyed getting to introduce professional speakers at 100% Optical. That's something I'm very grateful for, because it's not an opportunity I would have had if it wasn't for being a student rep.

What piqued your interest in getting involved with professional membership bodies in optometry?

When starting my degree, I set myself a rule that I was going to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that came my way. I was curious to find out more about what the AOP do. As an optometry student, we had a talk from the AOP right at the beginning of the year. I wanted to find out more, and there's only so much you can find out from your own research. I felt that the best way to get an insight into that professional body was to be part of it, and I thought it would be great to build that connection early on.

My AOP membership means to me…

That I have access to free student advice and resources, as well as tips for pre-reg and beyond, all at the click of a button.