Last Monday I started a 6 week programme with Boots on their Future Optometrist Programme. The scheme is designed to give students a flavour of retail optics and how Boots works in particular. It also acts as a 6 week interview from point of view of company and allows the student to get idea of whether Boots is right for them and how they get on with the staff where they may well be working on the pre -registration year (pre-reg for short).
My placement is in Swansea so involves a nice little train journey in the morning, although this gives me a chance to catch up on TV or books I've missed out on and catch a nap if needed.
The first impressions were good, the store is reasonably well equipped and more importantly the staff are really friendly and seem to put up with all the random questions I've been throwing at them all week. It's very strange for me to not know anything about the system or how anything works, after doing the same job for over 10 years I've worked out exactly how the systems in my current job work.
Although I had received and read the student guide to the programme I was a little surprised about doing so much work as an optical consultant and it wasn't until I went to the introductory conference in Birmingham on Thursday which put the programme into context. I'd been thinking too literally that it was all about optometry but it isn't; the optometrist is not alone - they are working as part of a team and to understand the team you need to understand the other roles. To this end I have been welcoming patients into the practice, answering the phone, adjusting glasses, running though collections, making appointments and helping with pre-screening. The amazing thing is that this isn't all optical consultants have to do; there is extra paperwork for NHS and PEARS forms, asking lifestyle questions as part of pre-screening to aid the 3 moments of truth, helping with referrals, managing emergency patients, checking in glasses and of course dispensing, with the aid of a dispensing optician for tricky dispenses. I apologise to all optical consultants and assistants I may have unwittingly looked down on, they have a vital role to play and put in a lot of hard work to ensure the branch runs smoothly.
The highlight of the week was the welcome conference in Birmingham on Thursday. This highlighted Boot's purpose "We commit to enrich the life of every person. We are a health led optician, yet care about a whole lot more." It also highlighted the 3 moments of truth which are used within the customer journey to ensure the customer gets the best possible service. I look forward to seeing the results from the customer metrics and working out ways to improve them, over the next few weeks.
I had my first review on Saturday which was a bit nerve wracking, I was confident I had done okay but am always worried that there is something I've done wrong or missed. However it passed without a hitch, I got some good feedback and a plan for the next few weeks is developing so I am looking forward to the rest of the placement, if not the early starts.