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July 13 2012
Optometrist Amar-Kaash Gandecha (pictured) shares his experiences of the pre-reg period
Tell us a little bit about your optometry journey so far
I completed my optometry degree at Aston University in 2010, and then went on to complete my pre-reg at Optical Express. After qualifying as an optometrist last July, I took up a resident position at the multiple’s surgery centre in Nottingham. My current average day consists of a varied mix of sight tests, contact lens appointments and post- operative laser and IOL appointments.
How was the first day of your pre-reg?
Really enjoyable, actually. I think my team sensed that I wanted to make a good first impression, so they showed no hesitation in showing me the ropes. This was also the start of developing an important bond with my manager and supervisor.
How much of a part did your supervisor play in your pre- reg?
It’s important for pre-regs to build a friendly relationship with their supervisor, in the sense that you can approach them about any issues you may have, not just clinical, but also other matters that may be hindering your progress. Don’t be afraid of asking questions, it’s the only way you will learn.
How did you find the transition from university to practice?
Initially, if I’m honest, it was tough. Because I was on the shop floor for the majority of the day, I found that dealing with a constant stream of patients was difficult. However, after a while it became something I thrived on, and it really helped to build my confidence. So my advice to pre-regs would be to get stuck in and learn as much as you can, not just in terms of eye tests, but also dealing with dispensing issues, and learning the computer systems.
What should a pre-reg focus on in their first few weeks?
It’s important to perfect your routine and record keeping, in terms of sight tests, contact lens fits and contact lens aftercares. Try and sit in on as many eye examinations as you can, as you will be able to pick up good techniques for clinical development.
Also, the College requires you
to perform 350 sight tests and 250 dispenses by your Stage 2 examination. You should easily get your sight test numbers, but the dispenses can be trickier to achieve, especially after you go on diary. So make sure you do as many of these as you can in the first two months of your pre-reg. Also, a good tip to remember is that BOGOF offers on spectacles would count as two dispenses, as long as you have taken the measurements for each pair.
How did you prepare for the day of each assessment?
About two weeks before each assessment, I would go through the list of required patient episodes and make sure I had each file in my room, arranged in such an order that if the assessor were to ask me for a record, I would be able to pull it out immediately. You should also learn your records inside out until you feel comfortable discussing each patient episode and explaining why you have chosen it.
How did you revise for your assessments?
Everyone has their own technique that works for them when it comes to revising. However, it’s important to remember that each visit is arranged into a set of competencies, and you won’t be tested
on anything except these specific competencies. So make sure you’re revising the right competencies at the right time.
What support material did you use?
The best place for support, as I suggested earlier, is your supervisor. Any clinical queries within practice should be directed to them. Out of practice, there are a number of sources of information available, including university lecture notes, the AOP pre-reg website, OT, books, eg Kanski, and the Internet.
Finally, what is the winning attitude for pre-reg success?
Patience, determination, and most of all, hard work.
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