18 November 2020

Meet Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu, the new College Clinical Adviser

Our new Clinical Adviser, Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom DipTp(IP), discusses opportunities for the profession, his vision for his new role, and more.

What is your background? 

“My name is Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, and I’m an optometrist working in both community and academic practice. Having qualified in 2009, I have undertaken scientist and higher education training through postgraduate study. My research activities have helped me contribute to scientific literature through publications in journals, magazines, and presentations. In 2015 I qualified as an independent prescriber, this has helped me enhance my patient care and provide the best treatments to manage them effectively while working.

“My IP practice is focussed on primary care, particularly managing cases through enhanced ophthalmic services schemes. It allows me to fully develop a management plan and see the patient through their treatment journey. It is very satisfying knowing that I have helped resolve their symptoms, and showcase the clinical potential of optometrists so patients know they can be managed safely and effectively in a timely fashion.”

What future opportunities and challenges do you see for the profession?

“The current major challenge we’re all experiencing is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced us all to change our working habits. For optometrists, this has affected how we engage with our patients on a daily basis, altering the way in which we provide face-to-face care. However, through clear and concise guidance provided by the College, coupled with the considerable skill of our profession, I strongly believe we have met this challenge head on, and will continue to do so. 

“A further challenge we face is the increased clinical responsibility from providing enhanced ophthalmic services, such as prescribing or developing clinical management plans alongside other health care professionals. These collaborations between primary care and secondary care will increase, allowing for more optometric involvement in the delivery of other eye care services, such as the community based MECS, WECS, PEARS and CUES schemes. This is a great opportunity for our profession to continue to show our skill set, and demonstrate what we can offer in terms of our clinical ability. This focus on clinical care will provide us with the opportunity to reflect on our current practice in order to undertake postgraduate study, allowing us to upskill, and ultimately improve patient outcomes. 

“Advancements in technology, such as virtual appointments or face-to-face online sessions, have changed the way in which optometrists practice. Now is the time for us to embrace these new technological developments to allow us to provide the best ongoing care, and educate the public on the importance of eye health.” 

What is the College’s role? 

“Crucially, the College provides the latest evidence-based Clinical Management Guidelines and ethical scenarios. These resources have proven invaluable to me over the years, helping me navigate the wide variety of situations encountered in day-to-day practice. Through this, I believe that the College ensures and helps to equip a highly skilled workforce that is fit for any future challenges.” 

What are your objectives and vision for your new role as Clinical Adviser, and the profession?

“As the College’s new Clinical Adviser I will continue to maintain and uphold the high clinical and professional standards required to practice as an optometrist. My objectives to help achieve this are to encourage career development, continually update College guidance with the latest evidence-based findings, and widen access to this guidance for our members and our patients.
“For the profession, I strongly believe that optometrists will become the point of care for all frontline eye care services. This will showcase our abilities to our fellow eye care professionals, and the general public, giving confidence in our practice and clinical capabilities. As Clinical Adviser, I believe that we can achieve this through increased media presence, and better communicating our skills and services to our patients and fellow health care providers, putting optometry truly on the map as the go-to profession for eye health care services.”

Our Clinical Advisers are just a phone call or email away and are here to provide a prompt answer to all your clinical and professional questions. Get in touch. 

Get to know me

Favourite equipment: Slit lamp
Favourite research: Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society (TFOS) Dry Eye Workshop 
Favourite book: The Wills Eye Manual
Favourite topic area: Ocular surface disease 
Favourite College member benefit: Access to Clinical Management Guidelines (app) 
and therapeutic prescriber advice.
What inspired you to become an optometrist? Helping people to value and look 
after their eyesight.