Pre-reg focus

“Things aren’t always black and white”

Oran O’Connor, pre-reg optometrist at Specsavers Newtownards, tells OT  how he is preparing for Visit 3 and how helpful he has found witnessing pathology in practice


Currently, I have my sights set on finishing Stage 1. My Visit 3, which includes direct observations, is on the horizon. I am continuing to focus on improving my clinical skills, including in areas that I haven’t had much experience in – such as direct ophthalmoscopy and Goldmann tonometry. My main supervisor is immensely helpful and sets time aside to observe and give me advice on how to improve these skills.

This will lead me on to Stage 2 of the Scheme for Registration, where again my clinical skills will be assessed, as will all of the knowledge that I have revised over Stage 1. For this, I plan to go through case studies on the College of Optometrists’ website and familiarise myself with the content. I am looking forward to progressing further through my pre-reg placement.

Reflections from previous months in practice

I am feeling more comfortable than I was at the start of my pre-reg, because I have gained much more experience in managing different patients. It has been useful and interesting to see a different range of pathologies in practice, such as glaucoma, cataract, and macular degeneration, to name just a few, which I had not seen prior to beginning pre-reg. My supervisors have all been helpful, showing me different pathology where possible, and explaining it to me so I can better understand it so that if I see it, I can recognise it and manage it.

Further developing communication skills is another area that I am working on – such as explaining things in layman’s terms to patients to support their understanding of what I’m telling them. Drawing upon the experience of my supervisors, who do this effortlessly in their normal day-to-day work, is proving useful.

It has been useful and interesting to see a different range of pathologies in practice, such as glaucoma, cataract, and macular degeneration


What I wish I’d known at the start

At the start of my pre-reg placement, I wish I had known that it is okay to ask questions and to not always be sure – I know this now. My supervisor puts me at ease with any issues I have. They are always more than willing to answer any questions, and this is priceless when moving through pre-reg.

I also wish I had known how different testing real patients is to what I had read about at university. Things aren’t always black and white, and it is important to talk to my patients to fully understand their symptoms, and then take the time to fully investigate any of their worries. This may require dilation, or a further review appointment, and I am now confident to do this when needed.

Reflecting on my practice and existing knowledge has been key to my development, which is made easier by my supervisor giving me the necessary time at the end of the day to catch up on my logbook or go over anything that I would like more guidance with. This may only be a short five or 10 minutes, but it gives me the opportunity to understand my weaknesses and develop further.