Hi, tell us a little bit about yourself and your decision to study Optometry?
My name is Lily and I recently graduated from Cardiff University. I am originally from Manchester, which is where I am now carrying out my pre-reg year. I chose to study Optometry as I enjoyed science at school and so decided to pursue a career in healthcare. I like the fact that optometry offers an interesting but challenging career, which involves interacting with customers on a daily basis.
How have you found doing your pre reg with Specsavers?
Pre-reg is a challenging year which requires both hard work and organisation. Specsavers provides support and advice throughout the year to help you prepare for all your upcoming assessments. It is a busy and fast-paced environment that allows you to gain new experience daily. It differs largely from university, not only by how many patients you are exposed to, but it also provides you with the opportunity to use your knowledge and build on your skills in real-life scenarios. Each person’s pre-reg year is different and it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities and challenges you face.
What does your typical day/week in store look like?
My typical week in store involves individual dispensing, contact lens and testing days. This allows me to focus on the competencies required for each assessment. My supervisor plays a key role during my working week and is always available to help. The pre-reg year is very challenging. It can be difficult to balance a 9-5 job, revision and a social life but it’s all about using your time effectively. This is something I have learnt along the way. To prepare for my exams I use a combination of resources including the college handbook, information from both the Specsavers residential courses and the Specsavers pre-reg website plus my university lecture notes.
What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
I’m most proud of how my confidence has grown throughout the year. Whilst at university pre-reg year was a daunting prospect, I now however feel able to work independently and have hugely developed the clinical aspects of my practice. I believe that my experiences at Specsavers have prepared me well for my exams and I am now looking forward to qualifying as an optometrist and continuing my career with Specsavers.
How have you developed?
Since leaving university my test times have significantly reduced, my product knowledge has expanded and my patient rapport has improved. Working within the Specsavers environment I have found that these skills have developed naturally, as my experience widens I feel more comfortable offering advice to patients.
What do you love about your job? What is a challenge?
The thing I love about my job is the variety of work and the diverse range of patients I see. No person that walks through your testing room door is the same, which keeps days varied and interesting and provides a stimulating learning environment. Each day you encounter different pathologies and eye-related problems, this requires you to be constantly on your toes!
What are your thoughts and plans for your career once you have qualified?
Once fully qualified I plan to continue to work in store and further develop my skills and become accredited for the enhanced optical services. I hope that in the future, I will be in the position to act as a supervisor to student optometrists and help them to complete the pre-registration scheme.
Describe the Specsavers culture in three words
Friendly, fast-paced, enjoyable!
What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in optometry?
For anyone considering a career in optometry, go for it, but prepare to face a challenge! The job is non-stop and there is a steep learning curve but it is these challenges that make it an enjoyable and rewarding career. Whether you already have experience in optics or not, good communication skills are key for this job. Completing both the university course and the pre-registration year does require dedication and hard work, but if you are willing to work hard then a career in optometry can be very fulfilling. Optometry is a growing profession and Specsavers help to support that.