Rebekah Stevens MCOptom: a new path

1 November 2023
Autumn 2023

Rebekah Stevens MCOptom, the College’s Lead Assessor, explains how her career in academia has prepared her for the challenge of guiding and supporting pre-registration optometrists.

The College’s new Lead Assessor, Rebekah Stevens MCOptom, says: “When deciding my career, I was really drawn to the autonomy that optometry has. I have some experience of other professions, but with optometry you are an autonomous clinician, solely responsible for all or part of a patient’s care. For me, that was really important in what I wanted to do.”

That ready acceptance of responsibility has been a hallmark of Rebekah’s career, which has seen her transition from independent practice to research, and on to high levels of cross-departmental academia.

“Research and academia align well with clinical work because the things that you see as an individual clinician – the patients you see every day – can then translate into what that would look like across a nation or even internationally,” she says.

“I worked in independent practice in areas of the UK where there was a lot of pathology in the community, so when I had the opportunity to do a PhD I absolutely jumped at the chance. I started to recognise that I had a passion for pathology and that steamrolled everything else.

“Working in academia allows you the opportunity to teach, and that meant that education swiftly became my passion. That then developed certain skills that I certainly didn’t have when I started in optometry – such as presenting to lots of people, defending opinions and finding creative solutions to problems. Academia grew those in me, as well as the critical thinking needed to see things from a variety of different perspectives.”

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