I must admit, optometry was not my first choice of career option and neither was a subject that had crossed my mind. My first choice and dream was to study medicine as I have always been a science enthusiast! However, going through that period of time where you have to make grown-up life decisions and overcome the confusion of what career to pursue, I decided to do two weeks work experience in a hospital. These two weeks in the hospital unravelled and opened many doors for me, branching off to different pathways, one of which led me to optometry.
Securing a work placement in a hospital without having any contacts to help can prove to be very challenging. In a situation like this, it is very important that you do your own research to find your contacts and reach out to those who manage the hospital directly. This is exactly what I did, I found out the name of the lady who ran the particular sector of the hospital I wanted to work in, and approached her directly. An informal meeting, a couple of email exchanges and a contract signing later, I had begun the hospital placement which changed my life.
My placement was conducted in a care unit which offers treatment and inpatient surgeries in five disciplines, one of which is ophthalmology. My time was spread equally amongst all the various healthcare professionals in order to gain a clear picture of their roles and to put myself in their shoes for the day. Despite being captivated by all, the role of the ophthalmologist had shone through to me the most. Sitting through the pre-operative and post-operative consultations, I witnessed a huge amount of heart felt gratitude expressed by the patients towards the ophthalmologist, which, even for me felt very fulfilling and gratifying. I then began to question that if I had felt this happy purely from observation, how would I feel to be involved in delivering this care which would restore or improve someone’s vision? Ecstatic.
Up until that day, I had never given the eyes much thought. After shadowing the ophthalmologist and optometrist who pre-screened and conducted eye exams, I was led to understand and appreciate the gift of sight and the involvement of our eyes in general health. Additionally, observing surgical procedures including; laser eye surgery (LASIK) and the removal of cataracts, fascinated and opened my eyes into the progression of the field which had further inspired me to pursue a career in optometry. From this experience, I gained an appreciation and understanding of the subject which had led me onto the career path that I am following today.