Caroline is 30 years old and started her career as an optical assistant at Specsavers in Vällingby just outside Stockholm 9 years ago. “A friend of mine had just started as an optical assistant at Specsavers. What inspired me right then was that I thought the job seemed really interesting. In addition, I thought glasses were such a nice-looking accessory,” says Caroline with a big smile. “It turned out that they were in need of two optical assistants in the store right then. And that’s the way it all started.”
Caroline now works at Specsavers in the city centre of Gävle, a city about 200 kilometres north of Stockholm. Four opticians, two clinical assistants and eight optical assistants work at the store.
“It was love that made me move to Gävle 4.5 years ago,” says Caroline. “It’s great that you have the opportunity to work throughout the country. Specsavers has over 100 stores from Boden in the north of Sweden to Ystad in the south, so there are opportunities to get a job in another store if you decide to move elsewhere.”
“About two years ago, another colleague and I had the opportunity to attend the training to become clinical assistants. First, we did a training about the Optician on Demand concept and in November last year, we took the course in assisted refraction where you learn how to use the new high-tech equipment and prepare all necessary information for the optician. Now I have worked as a clinical assistant for two years, and I find it really fun and rewarding – I learn something new every day.”
A clinical assistant can work in two different ways. You can assist the optician who’s connected remotely by a computer and monitor during the eye examination (Optician on Demand). Caroline started working with the Optician On Demand concept, but now she mainly performs eye examinations using several instruments that she uses to collect the necessary data from customers and deliver it to the optician (assisted refraction).
“As a clinical assistant, I’m with the customer throughout the entire eye examination. I prepare all steps and assist the optician on the screen with conducting function tests. With assisted refraction, I’m responsible for compiling all results, including the refraction made by the instrument, which are then analysed and assessed by the optician.”
“I feel that I have really developed in the field of optics. I have learned a lot about eye diseases and other things that you actually have no idea about outside the eye examination room. As a clinical assistant, I meet many customers and what’s so positive is that you get a deeper relationship with them and really understand why they have come to us. This makes it easier to help them with their needs, which of course feels very good.”
“When you perform the actual sight test with assisted refraction, you use a special instrument with wavefront technology,” Caroline explains. “Next to this instrument, I use an iPad where I pick up letters and other eye examination material. The customer is placed in front of the wavefront meter with the chin and forehead, and they look at a display in front of them. The wavefront meter then reads the customer’s visual defects, and I get the results on the iPad. I continue through a flow that the machine's algorithms calculate where the customer gets different options to choose from to get the best possible strengths. After that, I use a test arch to check that everything feels good and that the customer is completely satisfied. Then we also check for myopia.”
“In our store, we have one optician who signs off the eye examinations that the clinical assistants perform with assisted refraction,” Caroline continues. From my point of view, what’s important is that I have written down all the information the optician needs. The optician checks if there are any suspected cataracts or something else that needs to be investigated further. It’s important that the optician really gets all the information needed to be able to sign off the examination. If there’s something that needs to be investigated further, the optician asks about it, and we’ll find the best solution together.”
“Working as a clinical assistant is very interesting, and I’ve learned so much about optics. It's quite a lot to take in at first, but it’s incredibly fun. I have developed so much during these years and have had the chance to attend most of the courses that Specsavers offers. In addition, I meet different customers every day, which means that I’m constantly learning something new. As a clinical assistant, it’s important to be responsive and really listen to what the customer needs. The reason why we’re here is to help our customers!”
“Yes, I’m thinking about attending the optician training in the future. I really enjoy working in the eye examination room. We'll see”, Caroline concludes with a smile.
Get to know more about what it’s like to work as a clinical assistant at Specsavers in Sweden. Or read more about all store opportunities we have and find out if we have any vacancies that may suit you.