OT profiles the Locum of the Year finalists in the AOP Awards 2020, speaking to them about why they became a locum and what they most enjoy about the role.
Optometrist Akchlass Bazza became a locum two years ago and practises in the North West of England, including Lancashire. Here she discusses what she enjoys most about being a locum and shares her most memorable moment in practice
I love being a locum optometrist because there is always variety through working in different areas, and with different teams. I also experience different patient demographics in different areas, with a wide range of pathology presenting.
For me, great patient care requires always making sure the patient is the priority. Getting to know the patient will put them at ease and make their eye test experience unique and special.
Being a team player means, when I’m not in the testing room, helping in different areas in the practice such as dispensing, greeting patients and booking them in and seeing if team members require training in any specific areas such as contact lens teaches, or dispensing and ordering contact lenses for patients.
My most memorable moment in practice has been working with children in the hospital setting and seeing them receive their glasses for the first time – their faces light up. One patient was a nine-year-old girl who hated reading and wasn’t doing well in it. She had multiple eye tests elsewhere and was told that she didn’t need glasses. I did a cycloplegic refraction and found a high hyperopic prescription so I prescribed her glasses for full time wear. When I saw her after three months she was happier and her mother told me she had moved up several reading groups and reads as a hobby. This made me feel a sense of fulfilment from my job.
In the future, I predict that optometry will hopefully find treatments or controls for eye diseases that could not be cured previously, such as myopia or restoring vision in partially sighted patients with stem cells.
“For me, great patient care requires always making sure the patient is the priority”
Optometrist Craig McCoy has been a locum since 2018, practising across the Grampian, Highlands, Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles. Here he shares what he most likes about locuming and why
I became a locum optometrist because I wanted to experience different practice settings, in particular independent practice. Prior to becoming a locum, I was working in a multiple. I had met a few independent practice owners through networking at CET events and local optical committee meetings and knew that there was a demand for locums in this setting in my local area. So I thought it was a good option to try.
I love being a locum optometrist because it means that I am not going to the same place for work every day. I have found that it breaks up the monotony of work and gives me the opportunity to experience different ways of working. It also enables me greater flexibility, meaning that I can pick the days that I work and keep my weekends free to play rugby – something that I could never do when I worked as a resident optometrist as Saturdays were compulsory in the practice.
For me, great patient care requires you to constantly be looking to learn and gain new skills. I completed independent prescriber training as soon as I could after qualifying and now also have a professional certificate in glaucoma. I try to be constantly learning as I believe that you have to know what is happening and in development as optometry becomes much more about healthcare rather than just eye care.
Being a team player means going above and beyond what people expect of you. Rather than just sitting in the testing room churning out patients, I like to try to get to know the people who I am working with on any given day. I am also happy to muck in with other jobs and answer questions. I try to slot into the team as if I were my permanent place of work.
My most memorable moment in practice was actually when I was a resident optometrist and supervised my first pre-reg optometrist through to qualification. That is something that I miss now that I am a locum. Of course, there are also lots of clinical moments that stick in my mind such as when you pick up a papilloedema, for example.
In the future, I predict that optometry will develop two sides. There will be a retail/refracting side to optometry and an optometry where the lines are increasingly blurred with ophthalmology. I think you will have practices where there is primary care delivered by optometrists, and then I think there will be retail practices selling glasses. I also think that refraction will eventually be done by artificial intelligence.
“For me, great patient care requires you to constantly be looking to learn and gain new skills”
Optometrist Prinal Patel became a locum in 2010 and practises across Surrey and West Sussex. Here she shares the benefits that locuming brings her and makes a predication for optometry in the future
I became a locum optometrist because of the flexibility that it offer, which I really enjoy. It has enabled me to be constantly learn new skills and work with new technology. I enjoy working with different demographics of patients and practices that offer specialist services.
I love being a locum optometrist because it allows me to work in a variety of areas within optometry and expand my career portfolio. I love travelling and this position fits around that very well.
For me, great patient care requires attention to detail, and listening and understanding my patients’ needs. I like to spend quality time talking to my patients at the beginning of an examination, not only about their history and symptoms, but also about their personal life such as recent holidays, how their family is, and so on. I do this because I think that it is important to establish trust and ensure the patient is relaxed before the eye examination.
Being a team player means being flexible, reliable, responsible and respectful, as well as listening and understanding. As professionals, we spend a large part of our daily lives at work, so it’s important to create a calm, honest and happy environment to practise in. When team members work together to achieve their goals, patients can also perceive this as a reliable and trustworthy service.
My most memorable moment in practice has been getting the phone call to tell me I am an AOP Awards 2020 Locum of the Year finalist. And, of course, watching patients smile when they can see properly – it’s priceless.
In the future, I predict that optometry will have many more specialist and integrated services available. Optometrists will also be more involved in using advanced technology to help practice monitoring and preventative eye care.
“For me, great patient care requires attention to detail, and listening and understanding my patients’ needs”