Not to be confused with a dispensing optician who fits and supplies glasses, an optometrist prescribes spectacles or contact lenses and detects ocular abnormalities or disease based on examinations.
Admittedly it’s not the most glamorous of vocations and to some the idea of a life dedicated to asking the question ‘can you read the bottom line’ is not the most thrilling of prospects, but nonetheless optometry is a highly skilled and prestigious field which offers great career stability and excellent earning potential.
The road to becoming an optometrist is very challenging and requires much academic study and hands on training – the field is overseen by the General Optical Council (GOC) which sets the standards for optometrist training and accredits university degree courses. For the most part universities will require entrants to gain at least 3 A-levels (Grades AAB) in scientific subjects including mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics, however a number of UK universities now offer a foundation course in optometry which may allow those with good non-science A-levels to gain access to an optometry degree. The GOC requires that all students gain at least a lower second class (2.2) degree in order to continue their training which includes a one-year clinical pre-registration period which is undertaken with supervision from an experienced optometrist. Those who successfully complete their pre-registration year will also have to pass a professional qualifying examination overseen by the College of Optometrists.
It is worthwhile noting that optometry is a very rapidly developing field and in order to keep your registration as an optometrist regular training and examination is required.
As with many degree courses nowadays, universities aren’t just looking for someone who is academically gifted but will examine your application to ascertain whether you possess the skills and attributes required to make a successful career as an optometrist.
Ideally work within an opticians would stand you in very good stead but failing that any customer facing role will provide proof of interpersonal skills which are of such great importance in a front line service like optometry. It goes without saying that a proven flair for science is a prerequisite but it is also worth thinking about ways in which you can demonstrate things like manual dexterity, communication and a meticulous eye for detail.
Skills to become an optometrist
There are of course an abundance of skills which are required to be a successful optometrist, aside from the obvious scientific prowess and interest in clinical eye care, applicants must have; a professional attitude, excellent communication abilities, good interpersonal skills, a meticulous eye for detail, precise dexterity and most importantly the desire to work in a patient facing role.
An optometrist will may also have the opportunity to become a practice manager so team-leadership, organisational and administrative skills are also of great importance.
Still fancy a career as an optometrist? Good luck! We hope that these basic tips help you along the way…
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