The Nick Rumney episode

In the eighth episode of The OT  Podcast, we speak to optometrist and owner of BBR Optometry, Nick Rumney, about business, clinical services, and the future of optometry

In episode eight of The OT Podcast, we explore education, regulation and reform with our guest, optometrist Nick Rumney, as he talks OT through his career.

Rumney enrolled in optometry at Cardiff University in 1977, having taken a year out to upgrade his physics.

As a third-generation optometrist, following in his grandfather and his father’s footsteps, he admits that he was the first in his family to opt to tread the optometry path by his own choice. He recalls fond memories as a child of pressing buttons to make the Snellen chart in his father’s testing room light up.

Having experienced time in his family’s optometry practice, as well as having completed work experience with the now defunct Dollond & Aitchison, Rumney opted to complete his pre-reg placement in a hospital environment in Bristol.

Qualifying in 1981, Rumney recalls the UK feeling very “grey,” with the economy struggling and jobs difficult to find. Without a vacancy available at the hospital, Rumney secured a role at a small practice group in Bristol, but after six months was considering his options.

Rumney admits that having graduated with a 2:2, the doors for post-graduate research in the UK were closed. This was an area of great interest to him and, as a result he approached universities in Australia and subsequently completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne.

The independent prescribing optometrist recalls his time in Australia as pivotal as it was the first time he observed two colleagues clinically focused and thriving in private practice.

Newly married and practising back in the UK, it was a chance meeting in a pub at a World Council of Optometry social that led him to become an optometrist partner in his practice, now BBR Optometry, a decade after qualifying.

Joining the existing practice as the third director, each with a different clinical speciality, the trio developed a menu driven income stream based on the specialist work that they were able to provide in contact lenses, orthoptics and low vision.

Today, 45% of BBR Optometry income derives from fees. It currently employs 24 staff, including six optometrists and five dispensing opticians, and has expanded into the building next door.

Asked what excites him about his role today, Rumney shared: “For me, business and providing specialist services for patients is intrinsically linked. We have worked doggedly and very hard to fight our corner in local NHS commissioning. We now have an income stream on the back of CUES, advanced case finding in glaucoma, stable glaucoma and OH monitoring, stable AMD discharge, paediatrics and low vison – we now generate a higher level of fee income from that then we do out of GOS sight tests.”

Talking to the next generation of optometrists, Rumney advised: “Embrace all of the higher qualifications that you possibly can and try to persuade people to fund you for it, and try to make a return on the back of it.”

“I wish it was 30 years ago and I could start all over again. The pathway would not necessarily be very different, but we would be so much further along the line that I could get to where I want to go – I think we have a hugely superb future ahead of us,” he said.

The OT Podcast

OT will release a new episode of The OT Podcast bimonthly. You can listen to The OT Podcast on our website, or via all the main podcast apps, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Castbox. Be sure to catch-up and listen to other episodes, featuring experts including Professor Nicola Logan, Ian Cameron, Keith Valentine, Dr Peter Frampton, Dr Stephanie Campbell, Lisa Donaldson and Peter Greedy.

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