Completing my pre reg summer placement with Specsavers - Ronan's story
Meet Ronan Eaton, third year
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your decision to study Optometry?
My name is Ronan Eaton and I am in my third year of Optometry in Ulster University Coleraine.
I decided to study Optometry due to my long-standing enjoyment of Biology and Physics at school and my desire to contribute to healthcare for the public. This course offered the opportunity for further learning in optics and the anatomy of the eye. I also was interested in optometry because of the everyday public interaction associated with the job.
Tell us where you are originally from, did you move for Uni?
I originally come from Coleraine, so it was not a far distance to travel to university. I am within walking distance to the university’s entrance.
How have you found doing your summer placement with Specsavers?
The summer placement within Specsavers was a great experience. I was placed at a newly opened store in Crosby located near Liverpool. I learned a lot about the everyday running of a Specsavers store from registering new patients and how an eye examination was carried out to collection and the fixing of glasses.
How did you find relocating for your summer placement?
I found relocating for my summer placement a great opportunity to experience living away from home. The store staff really helped me settle in and the accommodation I was placed in by Specsavers was exceptional. The only difficult part of the placement relocation was the 8-hour ferry journey from Belfast to Liverpool and back!
What did a typical day/week in store look like?
The store I was placed in had one testing room and eight members of staff meaning everyone knew each other well and got along. This allowed for a smooth running of the store to occur. The testing room had full bookings all week except for the occasional last-minute cancellation so everyone was kept very busy.
What have you learnt at Specsavers so far?
Within Specsavers I learnt how to carry out all the main roles of an optical assistant. I learnt how to dispense varifocals and how to deal with patients and their queries.
How have you developed?
Through the placement I feel my social skills and management have developed. I feel a lot more confident dealing with patients and their queries. I also developed my clinical skills through the ability to carry out pre-testing and dispensing.
What did you love about the job? What was a challenge?
I enjoyed seeing the customer being satisfied with their new glasses. The services we provided to customers usually left them happy with their purchase and you could really see it in some of their faces. This provided me with satisfaction knowing we had helped that customer out and carried out all we could. Dispensing a varifocal was a challenge but manageable as I was always supervised and not alone when trying out new things in the store.
What are your thoughts and plans for your career once you have qualified?
After my pre-registration year I hope to continue working as an optometrist. I have an interest in pursuing further education such as a contact lens qualification thus improving my learning within the work place. I like the thought of being a store partner in the future and see myself developing within the clinical room.
Describe the Specsavers culture in three words
Professional, Friendly, Supportive.
What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in optometry?
Optometry is not just about having great clinical expertise. Having the ability to build a good rapport with your patient is one of the most important things in optometric practice. It allows you to compile a good history and symptoms as well as making it an enjoyable eye test for you and your patient. Be confident in your abilities and ask yourself ‘how would I like to be treated?’ if I was the patient.