How I became an optometrist

Amelia WhiteAmelia White is a graduate of the BSc Optometry course at Manchester and a fully qualified optometrist. Here, she reveals why and how she went into optometry, and gives advice to anyone considering a similar career path.

Why I chose optometry

I first became interested in optometry when I visited the opticians for the first time as a patient. At that time, I was studying Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry at A-level and knew I wanted to do something in a medical field. I had always wanted to use my skills and knowledge to help people. This was the perfect environment!

I was inquisitive from the beginning and it led to me doing work experience in the practice.

Studying optometry

Studying optometry at Manchester was a life changing experience. Not only did I gain an excellent degree, but I also made life-long friends and great memories. Manchester has a lot of opportunities both academically and through societies to suit everyone. I even had the opportunity to be the Optometry Representative in my first year.

The optometry degree helped me to become the best optometrist I can be. The curriculum is vast with lots to learn, and there is also an art to providing great patient care, so you will need to develop the necessary communication skills, which will come with support and experience.

My degree ensured I could go into my pre-registration year with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel and develop further as a professional.

The best thing about optometry at Manchester was the quality of teaching and opportunities available to students. The small course size at Manchester is not only great for learning, but you also become like a family by the end of the three years!

There are a vast number of clinics throughout the course that complement the lectures and help you put your theoretical knowledge into practice. I would advise any future students to not be afraid to ask any questions in these sessions, as you are there to learn and these are a great opportunity available to you.

Also, the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital is only a short distance away and you have the fantastic opportunity of attending some clinics there during your time at university.

Besides the academic aspect, Manchester is a brilliant international city with a great nightlife and social scene. Whatever you are interested in, you will find it here and a lot of my student friends will be friends for life.

After graduation

After completing my  degree, I went onto start my pre-registration year at Boots Opticians. This year involved completing many competencies and passing several examinations. Following this, I became a fully qualified optometrist and I now work in practice.

I have also done further study since qualifying. There are many paths an optometry degree can take you down, including working in practice, in a hospital or in research.

I was extremely pleased when I completed the transition from university to becoming fully qualified. This is a very challenging but rewarding time. Also, receiving positive patient feedback and personal thanks, both verbally and written, make it all extremely worthwhile.

My current job

A typical day as an optometrist in practice starts with setting up your equipment in the testing room so you are ready for the day. Throughout the day, you will see a variety of patients and complete eye checks and contact lens appointments.

After each appointment you make a clinical decision regarding the patient’s ocular health, what vision correction to prescribe and whether you need to refer a patient.

Every day is very different and challenging, and I feel I am always learning and developing in my role.

My advice for budding optometrists

Work hard, be inquisitive and enjoy it. It is a very demanding course, but the variety of clinics and lectures makes the course really exciting, and there are so many interesting modules to learn.

Every year, you develop your knowledge and eventually it all fits into place, ready for you to grow further as a professional as you continue your training.

Find out more about studying optometry at Manchester and read about careers in optometry on the College of Optometrists website.

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