Francesca Marchetti is the Councilor for the Association of Optometrists, as well as an experienced Clinical Liaison Lead at Midland Eye in Solihull. Prospect Health’s Optometry Team have been working closely with Francesca, discussing the ways in which optometry students can make the most of their optometry work experience whilst at university and why it is so important to use work experience as an opportunity to excel ahead of your peers…
Optical careers are becoming ever more popular, good salaries, opportunities for clinical specialisms and the mix of medical and commercial expertise makes it a very attractive career path. Especially in the current climate, the demand for optometrists is extremely high!
Francesca is a firm believer in taking advantage of every opportunity whilst studying to be an optometrist and here you will find her top tips for succeeding as an optometry student and securing that dream optometry role on qualification.
Optometry work experience (Quick navigation)
Francesca’s ultimate quick line of advice to all optometry students is…
- Get out there and get a job in optometric practice.
- The sooner the better.
- It’s absolutely crucial to securing a pre-registration position.
- Get your CV slap bang up to date.
Optometry students who take the initiative of securing a role in an optometric practice whilst studying benefit from:
- Building their empathy and people skills – these cannot be learnt in a classroom and makes for a fabulous optometrist.
- Understanding administrative work and audits – when it comes to your pre-registration role you will already be up to date with NHS forms and paperwork expectations so you can hit the ground running and concentrate on clinical skills.
- The practice you work for could become your pre-registration placement – especially if you are enthusiastic and show commitment, or they will be able to provide you with a reference giving you an edge to your peers.
When working in your optometric practice there are a number of things you can do to make sure you get as much as you can from your optometry work experience:
- Enjoy it all
- Smile at everyone – colleagues and patients
- Network and get yourself known – the optometry world is small, be known for the right reasons!
Thinking of your student optometric job as one long interview can help you keep focused on what you want to gain from your experience. You will be constantly watched by your managers and supervisors so be sure to listen intently, communicate clearly and effectively and smile as much as you can – keep on top of your tasks, go the extra mile for colleagues and patients and be a positive and invaluable presence for your team.
Try to learn as much as you can about the day to day running of the practice and do not be afraid to ask for help and advice, this demonstrates enthusiasm and the willingness to learn and people will enjoy sharing their knowledge.
Be a team player, be part of the “practice family” join in the chit-chat in the staff room, go to any social functions put on by the practice
Being a successful student employee will allow you to become a successful Optometrist.
The Three L’s of your Optometry summer work experience
As a second year optical student, the summer provides the opportunity to secure a summer placement; However due to the Covid Pandemic, summer placements are harder to come by. Therefore, I would highly suggest getting any form of optometry work experience to gain more of the ‘hand’s on’ experience you need to succeed as a great optical professional.
It’s easy to get caught up in the new routine of practice life and the days can rush by so to make sure you get out and put in as much as you can whilst on your optical summer placement or during your work experience. If you still haven’t managed to find a placement or practice for work experience, you can always get work experience else where and gain transferable skills to your future practice!
We recommend you remember the simple but effective three ‘L’s…
Look around you when you’re at work. Watch how your colleagues interact with patients and watch how patients behave throughout their time in the practice. Look out for their body language, watch who they come to their appointments with and how they interact together, see which areas of the store attract their attention … all of this will help you learn how to communicate effectively with your patients and colleagues. Especially in the present and foreseeable future we need to be even more observant now about non-verbal communication between patients and staff, staff to staff etc. The usage of masks means we are limited to what we can read from a patient or colleague therefore being extra observant is a must.
Listen to everything. With patients and staff wearing masks, listening has become a lot more difficult with voices becoming distorted and muffled. Believe me, I am a mask wearing, braces fitted Scottish voice optometrist behind a mask and had lots of communication problems, it’s not easy, trust me. Nevertheless, make sure you are listening to how your colleagues are greeting patients in both the practice and out of the consultation rooms. How do the opticians strike up conversations? How do the practice team relay information to patients and colleagues? Listen to understand how the practice works, everything from scheduling appointments to ordering products to liaising with community health teams for complex cases… all of this information is important for you to learn so that you can understand the workings of a practice.
Learn from those around you. Everyone in the practice will understand this is a new environment for you so they will be open to answering your questions. Keep a diary each day of the patients you observe, the conversations you overhear and the processes you see happening. Take the time to digest your experiences and if questions arise go in and ask the next day for answers so that you can build your knowledge.
To remind yourself of the three L’s during your work experience or placement just remember this – By looking more , and listening more , we will automatically learn.
Using the three ‘L’s will hopefully help you stay focused whilst on your placement and we’d love to hear about your experiences so if you’d like to get in touch and find out more please contact [email protected] – we do reward contributors to our content platforms and it can be a great link for your CV!
You can find more advice and support ahead of your pre-reg placement in our other blog articles