Day in the life of a pre-reg with Emily Charlesworth

Posted in Emerging Talent on April 06, 2017
Author: Sam Reed

Hi Emily, tell us a little bit about yourself and your decision to study Optometry?
I’m from Yorkshire and commuted to Bradford to complete my Optometry degree. I’m carrying out my Pre-Reg close to home in my local town.

I decided to pursue a career in Optometry after carrying out some work experience when I was 15. I like the fact that you get to meet a variety of people, each with a differing set of eyes, presenting a new challenge. Eyesight is precious and I get great satisfaction from providing primary eye care and improving the quality of people’s lives.

How have you found doing your pre reg with Specsavers?
I'm really enjoying my Pre-Reg with Specsavers. So far I have been on a residential course in Birmingham where I learnt about all of the competencies I would be assessed on throughout the year, as well as a course on contact lenses and pathology, and mock OSCEs. Due to the amount of support I've received I have found Pre-Reg to be a lot less stressful than I thought I would as I know what to expect for each assessment and how to prepare for them.

What does your typical day/week in store look like?
I carry out eye exams four days a week and dispense spectacles one day a week which enables me to reach the sight test numbers I need throughout the year, but also to achieve the number of dispensing episodes I need as well. I have just completed my hospital placement where I observed eye exams on very young children and low vision assessments. 

For my assessments I use the hand outs I received on the Specsavers courses to help me revise as they go through all the competencies and how to achieve them. Before each assessor visit my supervisor gives me a training review score on different topics so I know what I’m good at and what I need to work on before my assessment.

What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
As a Pre-Reg my testing times are longer than normal and I carry out additional tests as part of my training. Patients tend to like the extra time taken and the thoroughness of the test with many patients saying it's the best eye exam they have ever had which always makes me feel proud.

During my first assessor visit I achieved 100% which was also a proud moment and built my confidence for my next assessments.

How have you developed?   
When I first started testing my testing time was 90 minutes and this has now reduced to 40 minutes. With more experience I’ve learnt how to tailor each eye exam to the patient to reduce my testing times. When at University you practice on your fellow students who understand optical terminology, when starting Pre-Reg one of the biggest challenges was learning to describe things in a way the general public would understand. I found observing other Optometrists in store very useful to help with this.

What do you love about your job? What is a challenge?
I love that each day is different and I get to meet a variety of different people throughout the day. I also really enjoy the people that I work with and I've made some great friends since I've joined the team. Working and then coming home to study can be a challenge but it helps that my store has another Pre-Reg I can discuss things with and share the experience.

What are your thoughts and plans for your career once you have qualified?
I am currently carrying out my Level 1 in Cataracts, Glaucoma and Minor Eye Conditions and I would like to complete these to level 2 once I am fully qualified. Three years after qualifying you are able to supervise your own Pre-Reg and that is something that I would like to do in the future. Specsavers also supports Vision Aid Overseas and I would like to help with their charity work in Zambia, training eye care professionals and establishing vision centres.

Describe the Specsavers culture in three words
Opportunity, Community, Fun

What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in optometry?
I would advise carrying out some work experience in optics to check it is the right career for you. If you are already studying optometry try to get weekend work at your local Specsavers as you learn so much in store that you don’t get the chance to learn at University. This makes it a lot easier when you start your Pre-registration year as you already know the basics such as booking appointments, using the pre test and visual field machines and dispensing spectacles.