Locum digest

Blue-sky planning

At the halfway mark of the year, OT  asked locum optometrists to share one celebration from the past 12 months, and a goal going forwards

The sunlight flares behind fluffy white clouds on a blue sky, with a silhouette of a hill framed along the bottom of the frame
Pixabay/Pankaj Biswas

It seems that summer has well and truly arrived, with the hope of more blue skies than grey – for now at least.

As well as bringing the fickle promise of better weather, July 2 will mark the halfway point of 2024, presenting an opportunity to review those resolutions so boldly pursued in those cold winter months of January, to reflect on achievements made so far, and to establish goals to tackle in the months ahead.

With the flexibility the locum career path presents, whether exploring different avenues of clinical work, making time for further training and qualifications, or creating a tailored a work-life balance, OT asked locum optometrists to celebrate one thing from the past year of their career and share the aims guiding them for the future.

Looking back at the past year, Thaksha Sritharan, who began locuming in February 2023, said: “I’m grateful for the chance to maintain the skills I learned from my hospital training to fit, insert, and remove scleral prosthetic contact lenses on TV and film sets.”

Taking on opportunities for further learning is on Sritharan’s mind as a next step. She told OT: “Especially now, with all the advocacy of schemes such as the Minor Eye Conditions Service, which can challenge optometrists to actively use more of their training in everyday clinics.”

Charity-work is also a goal for Sritharan, sharing: “I would also like to be involved with charities that support eye care in less fortunate parts of the world. Eye health is crucial and should be accessible to everyone. I would love to play my part in helping people in need.”

Eye health is crucial and should be accessible to everyone. I would love to play my part in helping people in need

Thaksha Sritharan, locum optometrist

Dr Rebecca Rushton told OT about her decision to re-shape her working week: “The thing I’m most celebrating is reducing my hours.”

“I used to work six days a week, but I’m currently working four days per week which keeps me a lot calmer and more engaged in my work,” she explained.

Looking ahead, Rushton shared that her focus is to continue “to be the best optometrist I can be.”

Sam Phillips has been a locum part-time for five years, he shared: “One thing I’m celebrating is the development and recognition of the standards I want for the practices I choose to work in.”

“Knowing that the ethos of a workplace and the level of equipment aligns with my approach allows me to feel confident I’m giving my patients a high standard of care,” he explained, adding: “In doing so, it helps me maintain a good level of satisfaction for the work I do and the improvement it gives people in their quality of life as a result. A convenient byproduct is the peace of mind from a job well done.”

Knowing the ethos of a workplace and the level of equipment aligns with my approach allows me to feel confident I’m giving my patients a high standard of care

Sam Phillips, locum optometrist

Phillips gave the example of being able to confidently manage progressive myopes and offer myopia control with a biometer to take axial length measurements.

Going forwards, Phillips said: “My goals involve determining my desired skills progression. Of late, I’ve been considering independent prescribing and weighing it up against other options like higher certificates or diplomas.”

“Continuous learning keeps me interested when I start to feel like I’m stagnating,” he added.

An ongoing goal is to maintain a healthy work-life balance: socialising with friends, travelling, and making time for hobbies.

“Being able to switch off from work mode and decompress is so important. I try to prioritise this, and I hope that I can continue doing so as I think it’s really important for all of us,” he explained.

Reflection and development

The first Continuing Professional Development (CPD) cycle draws to a close at the end of this year, having kicked off in 2022.

Practitioners are required to complete a reflective exercise looking back on personal development over the current cycle through a documented discussion with a peer.

The General Optical Council has produced a Reflective Exercise Guidance Template outlining what registrants need to discuss and document, the additional information that needs to be documented, and further advice on completing the exercise.

The template also mirrors the reflective exercise form that will be made available on MyCPD from July. The reflective exercise needs to be completed and submitted on MyCPD by 31 December 2024.

OT has explored the remaining steps practitioners need to take in the final year of the cycle. Read more from the article CPD: the home stretch.

Don’t forget OT regularly uploads new CPD exams suitable for all practitioner types with a range of interactive and non-interactive points available. View the library of exams here.

Join the conversation – comment what you are celebrating from the past year and share a goal you have for the months ahead.