“I believe I have served as a positive role model”
OT poses a series of questions to a hospital optometrist. This time: Paramjit Ghataore, deputy head of optometry at Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre
20 December 2023
Could you describe working as a hospital optometrist in one sentence?Working as a hospital optometrist is both an exhilarating and demanding job, which requires providing eye care services, performing diverse clinical duties, and working with other eye professionals.
Occupation: Deputy head of optometry
Location:Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre
Hospital optometrist since:2009.
How long have you worked as a hospital optometrist?In 1990, I undertook my pre-registration training at the Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre (BMEC), formerly known as the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital, in the heart of Birmingham city centre. My experience during this placement was marked by an unexpected personal loss, as my father passed away just three days after I started. I remain profoundly appreciative of the invaluable support extended to me by my colleagues during this challenging period.
Following my qualification, I continued within the eye hospital for an additional three years. However, I was compelled to make the challenging decision to transition away from hospital-based practice, primarily due to a significant financial disparity between hospital and community work.
Subsequently, I moved on and joined a prominent Midlands-based optometry practice. As a resident optometrist, I undertook all the duties involved in community practice, including obtaining accreditation in diabetic screening and the Minor Eye Conditions Service. I have over 20 years of community experience, and I am acutely aware of the commercial pressures community optometrists routinely navigate.
In 2009 I embarked on a dual role, dividing my efforts between community work and two days as a specialist optometrist at BMEC. This opportunity allowed me to develop advanced clinical skills, engaging in diverse clinics such as specialist contact lens fitting, including polymethyl methacrylate sclerals and research studies in photodynamic therapy and Lucentis.
In 2018, I was honoured to receive a promotion to the deputy head of optometry position, marking a pivotal milestone in my professional journey.
When and why did you decide to become a hospital optometrist?When I applied for the deputy head of optometry role, I knew I wanted to dedicate the remainder of my career to the hospital eye service. Over the past five years I have been responsible for the day-to-day running of the optometry department. In the absence of my department head, I am trusted with all departmental activities, including the development of local protocols and polices. I also serve as an advocate for the optometry team on our trust’s emergency department board, raising and offering solutions to enhance our service.
In addition, our trust allocates monthly dedicated half days for training and development. I facilitate these programs by organising external speakers, CPD activities, and peer reviews for colleagues to enhance our professional growth.
When I applied for the deputy head of optometry role, I knew I wanted to dedicate the remainder of my career to the hospital eye service
Do you do any other work or volunteering alongside hospital optometry?I do lots of walking with my husband, and mainly spend time with my family. I try and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
How does having worked on the High Street benefit you in the hospital setting?High Street optometrists develop a solid foundation in a full eye examination. This foundation is essential when working in a hospital.
They often manage appointment schedules and patient expectations efficiently. These organisational and time management skills are also valuable in a hospital, where managing patient flow and minimising wait times are crucial.
What is the biggest challenge facing hospital optometry currently? How can this be resolved?The biggest challenge facing hospital optometry currently is the growing demand for eye care services and the strain on resources to meet this demand.
We are trying to address this by implementing telephone consultations for some of our low vision follow-up clinics, to streamline patient care and reduce backlogs.
What is hospital optometry’s biggest success in the past three years?We have a growing number of accomplished, extended-role optometrists working in diverse clinics, including urgent care, glaucoma, medical retina and cornea, alongside our essential core services: contact lenses, refraction, paediatrics, and low vision. I am immensely proud to work with such a highly-skilled and dedicated team of professionals.
What is your biggest success in the past three years?My youngest son started secondary school when I turned 50, which prompted me to embark on my postgraduate training journey. I focused on independent prescribing, glaucoma, and medical retina. This initiated my involvement in urgent care clinics.
I have steadfastly held the belief in the importance of ongoing education and the continuous development of our clinical competencies. I firmly regard this commitment as the trajectory that will shape the future of optometry.
I am the proud mother of four sons, with my second eldest son qualifying as an optometrist this year. Furthermore, my youngest son has demonstrated a keen interest in pursuing a career in optometry. I believe I have served as a positive role model and an ardent advocate for our esteemed profession.
What is the most surprising case you’ve seen in the hospital setting?A patient came to see me after a two-day history of a foreign body sensation after removing her soft lenses in one eye. Anticipating giant papillary conjunctivitis, I was surprised to see a fully intact insect leg stuck on her corneal epithelium.
What would you say to optometrists working on the High Street about working in a hospital environment?
A hospital environment can offer a diverse range of enriching clinical experiences, professional growth, and the satisfaction of making a meaningful impact on patients’ lives.
I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone thinking of working in hospital optometry. It is an incredibly rewarding career.