Store Spotlight: Diana Kelly, Ophthalmic Director of Specsavers Musselburgh
July 17, 2018
My career is testament to the wealth of opportunities that open up to you once you decide to embark on a career with Specsavers.
Having completed all my education and work experience, I was keen for a new adventure.
I’d heard great things about Scotland so went to Edinburgh for an interview to see what the craic was! I had a really good feeling about the move as we developed a great affinity with the Scots on our revision courses through pre-reg, making some firm friends in the Edinburgh/Glasgow areas. I have never regretted this decision and feel it has made me the individual/Optometrist that I am today.
After 18 months, we went through a transformation of the Scottish GOS system, which convinced me that I was in the right place to develop my career. Here was a unique chance at professional freedom at the forefront of Optometry.
I quickly decided that a life of ‘better with one or two’ was not for me, and I commenced the journey to becoming a Specsavers Partner. Within six months, I opened my own store at the age of twenty-five. I relished the challenge, and over the last eleven years we have received many accolades; including Excellence in Customer Service across the entire group, and first to achieve Platinum Employer status in our region.
The continuous education and training provided within Scotland is second to none, and all provided free of charge. In 2012, I decided to undertake my next challenge - to become an Independent Prescriber. This affords me the highest level of professional pride, being able to manage many of my patients without having to seek assistance from the hospital eye service. We are very lucky that our local healthcare service and Ophthalmologists are actively supportive and there’s a high level of mutual respect between us. This allows for optimum professional freedom and gives great variety to my working week. One day I may be running a dry eye clinic, the next meeting with marketing colleagues, conducting staff appraisals, or working at a hospital clinic. No two days are the same!
One of the aspects I am most proud of during my time as a Specsavers Partner is our people development. The world is your oyster when you join a Specsavers team - the opportunities are there, you just need to grab them with both hands!
We have had nine Pre-reg Optometrists join our store in my time as a Partner, seven of which have relocated to the area and made a similar journey to myself. With us, they benefit from the support of a fantastic professional team, the excellent programme that Specsavers provide and an extremely varied and interesting clinical experience, being the primary point of contact for all minor (and some not so minor) eye conditions in our area.
The vast majority who have relocated to the area have opted to stay in Edinburgh, enjoying living in one of the most vibrant cities in the world and benefitting from all Scotland has to offer; including a fantastic music scene, comedy festival and also competitive sporting clubs. In fact, two other members of staff I know that have relocated have now become Specsavers Partners in Edinburgh themselves, one has just completed Pathway with a view to opening a store very soon. Another has recently completed the IP qualification under my guidance and fully-funded by NHS Education for Scotland.
We also have a fantastic practice support team, all at Cert 3 Dispensing Level or above. We have two homegrown Dispensing Opticians, an SMC Lab Tech and Platinum In-store Trainer. One of our work experience students has progressed from school-leaver to Dispenser and is now an Optometry student at University of Ulster, commencing Pre-reg with us in 2020!
Most recently, we have been focusing on staff mental wellbeing, holding ‘mindfulness’ sessions for all the team and encouraging a healthy work/life balance.
In our local area, we are very much the ‘go-to’ for any minor eye conditions. We have forged great relationships with our local GP surgeries, pharmacies and eye hospital, especially since I have become an Independent Prescriber. We have actively embraced the trend towards Enhanced Optical Services for a number of years. As a result, we are now reaping the rewards in terms of customer loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendation.
Over the past eleven years, we have also recruited locally and given individuals an opportunity to develop a career within Optometry. All of our Dispensers at are minimum Cert 3 Level and provide great support to the professional team.
I am particularly proud of our work experience students who have gone on to become Dispensing Opticians, SMC techs and Optometry students. We are embarking on an active recruitment drive next year with our local schools, encouraging students to consider Optometry as a career. We have also developed a great relationship with our local primary schools, giving talks at their health weeks promoting the importance of regular sight tests and road safety.
In the past few years, we have also raised in excess of £5,000 for both local and sight-related charities such as RNIB. A longstanding sponsorship of our local junior football team encourages a healthy lifestyle and we provide them with prescription sports goggles at a discounted price.
Being at the forefront of Optometry has many advantages, such as being the first region to roll out Fundus photography for all patients back in 2006 (fully-funded by the NHS). We get paid to conduct a Dilated Indirect exam with fundus photo on all patients over the age of sixty. More recently we have been involved in Glaucoma Referral Refinement. We received funding for pachymeters and follow our own SIGN guidelines rather than the generalised NICE used by the rest of the U.K. This affords us a higher level of professional freedom and has dramatically reduced the number of unnecessary referrals to hospital eye service, strengthening our relationships with our Ophthalmologist colleagues.
Our unique GOS system allows payment for ‘supplementary’ appointments, which gives us the opportunity to conduct follow-up or further investigative procedures as necessary. Our practice has a special interest in Dry Eye and Blepharitis. To this end, we invested in a Blephex instrument which we use as part of a Dry Eye assessment to manage cause and symptoms of Dry Eye. Through this, we can give patients, some of whom have suffered for many years with chronic Blepharitis, a much better quality of life. We also stock a wide range of ophthalmic eye drops and lid hygiene products to enable ongoing management of their condition. This gives great job satisfaction and variation from the monotony of refracting day in, day out!
We excitedly await the arrival of our new OCT machine and are currently working our way through the relevant CET as a team to prepare ourselves for the interpretation of scans and differential diagnosis.
If I were to describe the overall culture within our store in three words it would be; professional, supportive and innovative.
To anyone considering relocating to work with Specsavers in Scotland, I would say don’t hesitate to grow as a professional and spread your wings a little. You’ll experience a supportive and innovative way of practice and fantastic earning potential – all whilst enjoying the culture. Who knows where your next step might take you? One thing’s for certain, you’ll never regret it...