Thinking about a career in optometry?

Posted in Emerging Talent on April 28, 2017
Author: Sam Reed

Day in the life of a Specsavers Pre Reg - Meet Divya Khanna

Hi, tell us a little bit about yourself and your decision to study Optometry?
I live in North West London. I studied Optometry at Cardiff University. I decided I wanted to study optometry from a young age because I used to visit the optometrist quite often and have always been interested in how the eye works. Completing my pre reg with Specsavers has been excellent. Pre reg is a hard time in any career in Optometry and Specsavers have provided a great support team as well as a range of courses to attend to help with revision.

What does your typical day/week in a Specsavers store look like?
Pre reg Optometry so far has been a rollercoaster. You approach working life after university thinking you have learnt all you need to know but it’s very different. Trying to balance a full time job, studying and attempting to have a social life is challenging, you suddenly realise you had a lot of spare time at university even if your days were 9 to 5. Comparing my experience to my friends, some of whom are with Specsavers and others aren't, you see that everyone's pre reg journey is unique, no two people have the same experience.

My typical week consists of working between three different Specsavers stores; Edgware Broadwalk, Stanmore and Wembley and testing approximately 30 - 40 people, as well as working with the dispensing opticians on the shop floor and sometimes even glazing specs in the lab. Every couple of months, I help to arrange a charity event that the 3 stores take part in which is great for team building and morale. It is a very varied experience and I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to learn all aspects of the job. This variety is what keeps the job interesting and engaging.

Some of the training & development courses I have attended arranged by Specsavers have been great in my preparation for exams and my clinical confidence. We had a whole day training on contact lenses and a full day on pathology - both were fab!

What makes you most proud of your time as a pre reg optometrist at Specsavers so far?
Managing the clinic can be tough particularly if it is a busy day and we have complicated patients which means we have to spend a bit more time/do a few extra tests on that patient. But I enjoy it as it is a great challenge and it makes your degree worthwhile. Not many people in other professions can say that they use what they learnt at university everyday in their working life and I am lucky to have a selection of store supervisors that have a great range of knowledge that they are more than willing to share with me.

How has Specsavers helped developed your optometry skills?
Almost every patient I see presents a different type of challenge whether that is a communication challenge because that patient doesn't speak English very well or if the patient is deaf or if it is a clinical challenge based on the problem they have presented with.  I'm very lucky to say that all my pre reg exams have gone well so far and one thing that gets mentioned every time is that I can easily build a good rapport with my patients. I genuinely believe that working for Specsavers has taught me that skill, as you are exposed to such a wide range of patients  that you have to be able to effectively build a rapport with them so that you know they will come back to see you.

What do you love about your job at Specsavers? What is a challenge?
I have been able to reduce my testing time by tailoring each test to that specific patient needs. At the beginning of my pre reg I found myself spending a lot of time talking to my patients trying to explain the condition that they have and not being very successful but now I have developed my own explanations for the common conditions that patients can understand easily and so that has also helped to reduce my testing time and improve my communication.

What are your thoughts and plans for your career once you have qualified?
My plans for once I have qualified are to take a 2 week holiday :) If I am completely honest I have no idea where I see myself developing my skills in the future, but I know that Specsavers will be there to provide me with all the information I need and  a stepping stone to what career path I choose. Whether that is working abroad, or completing more qualifications or even opening my own store and becoming an optometry partner.

Honestly, I would like to develop my confidence in clinical knowledge a bit more, because I still find myself running to my supervisor for reassurance even though I know that what I am finding is normal or I know the what condition it is. I think the best way to develop this skill is just to test more, this way I am exposed to everything. 

What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in optometry at Specsavers?
The advice I would give someone who is looking to start a career in optometry is to not be put off by the thought of sitting in one test room for your whole life saying 1 or 2. This is not optometry anymore. There are so many different avenues you can take to develop your career whether that is clinically or if you are more business minded. If you are willing to spend time going through all the different options you will find something for you. I would also say don't just learn the clinical aspect make sure you learn how to communicate and build a relationship with your patients because that is what they will came back for.  Looking back on my experience so far I realise I spent a lot of time being worried about doing something wrong and lacking confidence in my own ability. If I was to go back and do it again I would remind myself to be more confident and trust in all the knowledge I gained at university.

If you are interested in learning more about a pre reg placement at Specsavers click here.