If you want to go further in your career then Specsavers is the perfect place
Meet John Roberts, Optical Partner
in Specsavers Ledbury
What was your background before joining Specsavers?
In year 11 I went to a careers evening with no idea of what I wanted to do after school. At the event I came across a stall set up by Hereford Specsavers and after talking to 3 of the Hereford staff I was intrigued to know more about optometry. Later that year, I did a week of work experience at the store and from that point I was sure that optometry was the profession for me.
Tell us a bit about your career journey at Specsavers?
I went on to do my optometry degree at Anglia Ruskin, I had a brilliant time there so much so that I spent 5 years doing my 3 year course. After finishing my first year I was fortunate enough to get some part time work over the holidays with Hereford Specsavers. I started as an optical assistant working whenever I was home from university. Finishing my course I then returned to Hereford as their Pre Reg Graduate Optometrist.
A year later I qualified as an optometrist and I was offered a full time resident position at Hereford Specsavers. After being a part of the Hereford team for 6 years during/after university I was then offered the opportunity (which I jumped at) to open a new store as Optical Partner in the town of Ledbury.
How has Specsavers supported your development?
Throughout my university course members of staff at the Hereford store were always willing to help. During my pre reg, I had a supervisor who was a great help throughout the whole year. He would double check anything that I felt unsure about and build my confidence at the same time. Leading up to the assessments we would even meet up to go over revision in the evenings.
The courses that are put on by Specsavers during this time were fantastic. They had great lecturers and each of the events were perfectly geared towards the stages we were preparing for. My directors were/are brilliant. They were a great support throughout university and pre registration. Then following on from that, when I showed an interest in becoming a Partner, they backed me the whole way and also prepared me for the interviews ahead and my Pathway journey. Now that I’m in my Partners role the support has not stopped there, whether it is optometry or managing that I need the support with, they are always more than willing to help.
Also leading up to being a Partner I had meetings with both my Divisional Relationship Manager and Regional Relationship Manager who prepared me for the upcoming interviews.
What clinical advances have you seen lately?
Since qualifying I have noticed that optometrists are now being used much more to try and relieve the pressure on the hospital eye departments. We now have plenty of local schemes in place which has the best interest for both the patients and the NHS.
OCT machines are also becoming more of a normal in Specsavers opticians. This along with being able to directly email your referrals to the hospital eye service, means the referral system has never been so efficient and effective.
How are you driving forward optometry in your local community?
Since opening Ledbury Specsavers in Jan 2017, we are involved in providing all of the Herefordshire schemes. Whether it’s looking after glaucoma patients, school referrals or emergency appointments we will see them all. We have also been getting involved in lots of local events in the community, such as the Ledbury festival.
We have been to a local primary school to talk to some of the children about the importance of their eyes and vision. We have also arranged a work experience for a student from a near by secondary school.
Where do you think you have made real difference to someone's eye health?
Within the first couple of months a 4/5 year old girl came in for a routine check. She actually had a reasonable hyperopic prescription (long-sighted) and was on the way to amblyopia (lazy eye) in her right eye. Since having the prescription she has taken really well to wearing them all the time, and her vision has greatly improved in both eyes.
In regards to training and developing yourself and your clinical teams - how do you manage to stay at the leading edge of your profession?
Myself and the one other optometrist have recently enrolled onto a clinical optometry distance learning course at Cardiff University. This is so we can continue to provide the utmost professional care for glaucoma patients and continue to work tightly with our local hospital eye department. Further from that we have both already completed the MECS and glaucoma assessments.
What makes you most proud of your time at Specsavers so far?
I am most proud of becoming an Optical Partner of my own store at the age of 26. 10 years ago when I first realised I wanted to become an optometrist my goal was to eventually have my own opticians and I never thought that that would become a reality so quickly. I have been very fortunate to have such great partners and family who believed in me and supported me through the whole journey.
Describe the Specsavers culture in three words
Professional, supportive, family.
What advice would you give someone looking to join Specsavers?
Definitely go for it. Once you are a part of the Specsavers team the possibilities are endless. They see the importance of developing their staff and therefore both you and the store benefit. No matter what level you are joining at, if you want to go further in your career then Specsavers is the perfect place to do this.