Locum optometrist guide

Who are you going to call?

How can locum optometrists build connections around them to help thrive professionally? OT  asks locum optometrists about the benefits a professional network can bring

people making connections

For many employed optometrists, their closest professional connections will be with the colleagues they see, day-in, day-out – occasionally over the course of decades.

These ties are not only important socially, but help to support optometrists in their development as clinicians.

For a locum optometrist, who may be the only clinician in a practice on a given day, building these important ties takes a different approach.

A locum’s network is formed through a conscious effort to form and maintain professional connections that remain as they shift between different settings and locations.

Locum optometrist, Rebecca Rushton, shared that she makes the most of opportunities to talk with other optometrists when working in practice.

“It’s great to have colleagues who can give you a second opinion or just sympathise when you’ve had a challenging day,” she said.

Like-minded learning

Rushton has also found LinkedIn useful for making professional connections, while attending workshops on topics that she is particularly interested in provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals.

“Being involved in my local optical committee has been fantastic for meeting a diverse range of optical professionals from my local area as well as helping me to become familiar with the role of optics within the wider health and social care community,” she said.

When Rushton is uncertain about a case, she will consult diagnosis and referral guidelines.

Crowdsourced advice should generally be taken with a grain of salt

Rebecca Rushton

While groups dedicated to optometry on social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, can be helpful, Rushton applies a degree of caution to this approach.

“Crowdsourced advice should generally be taken with a grain of salt,” she said.

Hassnain Safdar
Hassnain Safdar
For locum optometrist, Hassnain Safdar, the flexibility of working as a locum means there are “a plethora of opportunities” to build a professional network.

“You can manage your own diary to ensure you can attend events or take time to upskill. You also have the chance to meet different professionals through working across a variety of stores and regions,” he said.

However, Safdar adds that there can be financial considerations for locums when allocating time to educational and networking events.

Cultivating a professional network takes effort but it can have long-term benefits, Safdar shared.

“You might not see the benefit in the short-term, but, at some point in your career, you will find that that person, store, or contact you made whilst working as a locum proved to be key in your next role or life opportunity,” he observed.

Help on hand

When working in larger stores with more than one optometrist working, Safdar will ask a colleague for a second opinion of he is unsure about a particular case.

He added that sometimes there is a stigma attached to asking for advice as a locum.

“People think you should know everything as the locum, but in reality, that is impossible,” Safdar shared.

As a locum, you really do need to make a conscious effort to build a professional network


“My advice is to not be afraid to ask. It’s ok to not know as long as you're being safe and keeping the patients' best interest at heart,” he said.

Locum optometrist, Shamina Asif, shared that working in a practice as the only optometrist can be isolating.

“Working in a practice with other optometrists means you can discuss cases, learn from one another and find out about referral pathways,” she said.

“As a locum, you really do need to make a conscious effort to build a professional network,” she added.

Becoming involved with her local optical committee and attending continuing professional development events have helped Asif to form strong professional connections.

Getting to know what other optometrists specialise in during peer reviews can help when signposting patients, Asif shared.

“For example, if you then have a patient with keratoconus who needs a contact lens fitting you can then advise them which practitioner specialises in this,” she said.