Chantelle Van Staden is originally from South Africa and currently works as an optometrist at Specsavers Swords in Dublin. We caught up with her to hear about what it was like to go through the CORU recognition process to practice in Ireland, and her journey to Specsavers Partnership.
There’s no such thing as too much information
Before I moved over, I applied to CORU, the regulatory body in Ireland, to have my qualification recognised. I was fully registered within 6 months, which I know is not the case for everyone. Having spoken with friends on the same path, they’ve had delays because of the pandemic or needing to do a period of adaptation.
It all depends on your experience. It makes the process easier from the beginning if you put more than enough information down to prevent CORU from asking for more evidence. I recorded all of my qualifications and detailed every bit of experience I thought would help my application.
It would be great if they appointed someone to help with the process. To meet with you and guide you through step-by-step, providing guidance. Perhaps someone who’s been through it already and has a personal experience. There are so many documents to gather, and it probably took me about 5 months to get them sorted!
Registered and ready to practice
I applied for registration once I had my recognition certificate, which in comparison doesn’t take as long. You undergo police checks, provide your certificate of recognition, and then receive your OP registration number.
Getting a visa was fairly straightforward. As a registered optometrist, you can get a ‘Critical Skills Visa’, but if you’re required to do a period of adaptation, it’s not quite so simple.
We moved to Ireland in the summer, which meant we could take on student accommodation on a short-term basis while we looked for something more permanent to rent.
We’ve settled in nicely even with the pandemic putting a strain on socialising. I work with lovely people who go out of their way to include you in their communities, and that helped us a lot. I’ve found the Irish to be very inviting, open, and friendly, a great culture fit. There are a lot of South Africans in Ireland and we’ve met up with quite a few of them.
Pathway to Partnership
I think the path for progression is one of the best things about getting involved with Specsavers. There’s so much room for growth. It’s been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t do anything differently. Everything has worked out well for me and we’re happy to be where we are, and very grateful.
I started Pathway last March once I was back from maternity leave and finished the course in October, becoming a Partner on the 1st of January this year.
I really appreciate how Specsavers value the importance of their people. For me the most important thing in any business is the staff and the people that you work with every single day. Specsavers share those values, they give so many opportunities for development, not only the optometrists but everyone in store.
Words of wisdom
Be patient with the recognition process, try not to get frustrated, and keep doing what CORU ask of you. Even if you have to appeal a few times, it’s worth it in the end.
Make the move, you can always go back. It might be scary, but you’re more resilient and adaptable than you think.