“Being able to see the benefit and impact of primary care firsthand is invaluable”
Siddhant Majithia, optometry director at Specsavers Towcester, on going viral during the pandemic
30 September 2022
From a young age, I was interested in healthcare.
Optics particularly sparked my interest because an optometrist can find health and ocular conditions on routine sight tests. I was amazed that a routine sight test can reveal anything from diabetes to brain tumours. I also enjoyed studying the sciences and business through school.
I studied optometry at University of Bradford between 2014 and 2017.
As a very practical course, it was excellent preparation for pre-reg and my career. I particularly enjoyed clinic rounds, where we were presented with patients with different conditions.
I was lucky to live with final year optometry students in my first year. I got a lot of advice on areas to focus on, as well as general tips to living and studying away from home.
I joined Specsavers in summer of 2015 during my summer holiday from university.
I was looking for some part-time or temporary work to help pay off my student loans. I walked into Specsavers Leicester and was greeted by the lead optometrist, who introduced me to the practice director, and I was given an interview on the spot. Beginning on the practice floor, I continued working during term-time by commuting back every other weekend and went on to experience the various departments in a large practice.
I was amazed that a routine sight test can reveal anything from diabetes to brain tumours
I started my pre-reg with the same practice in 2017.
By this point, the weekend work had allowed me to become a competent dispenser and pre-screener. The pre-reg period was tough, with a lot of content to learn and put into practice. I was lucky to have a strong team around me during pre-reg. A highlight was when my colleagues created a mock objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) for me. This helped tremendously, as I became accustomed to the exam outline and types of scenarios that appear.
Shortly after qualifying, I completed my Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC), Minor Eye Conditions Service and glaucoma accreditations.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was then introduced into practice, and I took a lead clinical role as I strengthened my OCT knowledge, gaining a distinction in my professional certificate in medical retina with University College London.
Glaucoma is a particular area of interest for me, so I also did my professional certificate with the University of Bradford and passed with a distinction.
There is always time to learn and develop to be the best we can be, for both our patients and our team
Early in the pandemic, I was the only optometrist working in my branch.
This meant performing emergency and essential sight tests. I thoroughly enjoyed working during this challenging time. I was able to use my clinical expertise to make a difference during lockdown, when I saw the result of a lot of DIY accidents because many people did not have adequate ocular protection.
By using my further education, I was able to help reduce the strain on the NHS. One patient I saw had a fly stuck in his eye. The case went viral and was even published by the New York Post.
This period was also good for my development in the business, and it helps me in my position as director today. I learnt daily business processes such as cashing up, cash declaration, and handling various queries.
I started my Specsavers pathway programme – the route to directorship – in the summer of 2020, during the height of the pandemic.
I completed it by the following summer and became director in Specsavers Towcester in November 2021.
Recently, I have started my independent prescriber (IP) qualification.
I have a distinction in the university element, and I am working on my hospital placement and final assessment. I have also completed my WOPEC cataract accreditation and Institute of Leadership and Management level 2 and 3 qualifications.
Continuous education and development are the reasons I have progressed to this point in my career, and it improves the patient experience. Plus, continuous education keeps the job interesting. There is always time to learn and develop to be the best we can be, for both our patients and our team.
Working in primary care allows practitioners to work in many different areas of practice, including sight tests, contact lenses, ocular health, and paediatrics.
I have had the chance to meet other clinicians from a range of different backgrounds. Being able to see the benefit and impact of primary care at firsthand is invaluable. As an optometrist, I am proud that we support the NHS by delivering these services. Working with Specsavers enables me to put primary eye care at the core of my practice, so I can make community eye care accessible for my patients.
I supervised the BTEC Level 3 certificate for ophthalmic dispensing assistants for an individual who is registered sight impaired.
He progressed through the programme and is currently working as an assistant store manager. This has to be the biggest standout moment of my career. I hope to mentor many others to develop future business partners and specialists for the industry.
At the moment, I am enjoying practising and working as a director.
My immediate priority is to complete my IP qualification and use it to further help my patients. I am also in the process of starting the senior leader level 7 qualification, with transition on to an MBA, with the goal of gaining a better insight into the industry as a whole. In the future, I hope to be involved more in the bigger picture for the industry and our company.