After 3 years of studying, clinics, practicals, exams and a dissertation that was interesting but tiring, the time has come to step into the real world and enter the world of pre-reg.
The scheme for pre-registration (or pre-reg for short) is what optometry students have to go through before they are allowed to practice on their own unsupervised. The scheme consists of a series of visits during which 75 competencies need to be ticked off with observations on sight tests, contact lens fits and aftercares. A trip to see the hospital eye service similar to the visit to Bristol eye hospital in the third year is also required (if working in practice) along with at least 350 sight tests and 250 dispenses. At the end of it comes the dreaded OSCEs - a station exam with 1 minute to read the instructions and 5 minutes to perform the allotted task, rinse and repeat 17 times.
Before all that though, you have to start with your first patient. Now most people start with testing friends or members of staff who are nice, simple and let you find your feet. Not in my case, my first patient was a very nice 70+ gentleman with diabetes, a list of medication as long as your arm and the type of cataracts you hate as an optom. Still with a bit of faffing around; a combination of trying to remember how to do a sight test and using a new system to record it all we got through it. The end result was a small change in prescription but as the cataracts were so dense, he was right on the driving limit, we called him back in for a dilation and referral later in the week. Eye health was all fine so he's been added to the queue for cataract extraction.
The next couple of patients were relatively normal, then the last patient had some pigmentary changes at the macula so was given an Amsler grid as a precaution to keep checking for distortion. However, as with all patient led checking you do have to wonder how much the patient will follow the instructions.
The rest of the week has been a mix of normal sight tests, with a higher percentage of diabetics than the general population, with a couple of double appointments where kind people have booked me a contact lens aftercare/fit in with the sight test. I'm sure I'll learn how to do those efficiently but it wasn't what I wanted in my first week. Words will be had with my colleagues on the shop floor if that continues, although I do need them on my side to help with the competencies and sit as guinea pigs for my visits - so the words might not be that stern.
Friday was a bit more relaxed as due to having hearcare in the store there wasn't a room for me to test in. This meant my supervisors had a couple of extra patients to fit in and I got to make a start on my dispensing numbers. Even with a calmer day I was still tired at the end of the week, it's been 3 years since I worked full time and my body has forgotten how hard it can be to get up every day and go to work.
Despite all the struggles I have made it through week 1. However with pre-reg there is no such thing as a fully relaxing day off; studying needs to be done, competencies need to be organised, CET needs to be earned and the list goes on...