How to make the most of your optometry degree

Being a student can be stressful at times, and the years can go by faster than a blink. If you are looking to make your time at uni more productive, here are Caitlin Walsh' tips to help you complete your degree successfully.

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Read lectures ahead of time

This helps you understand what is going on in class, especially on the days where even coffee doesn’t wake you up! Plus, if you come across something you don’t understand, you’re able to ask a question in class instead of wondering about it the night before an exam.

If you have the time, get a part-time job 

This can help in so many ways:

  • more money!
  • experience: such as dispensing, customer service and pretesting
  • preparing for pre-reg and beyond - if you want to work in the city you’re studying in, this gets your foot in the door for your pre-reg year
  • organise your time - because the busier you are, the more organized you need to be.

Practice, practice, practice

You’ve heard it from your professors enough, but techniques honestly do get better the more you work on them, and at our stage, there is always something you can improve
on. Improve your practice time by: 

  • talking through the steps of a technique with a classmate while performing it. If you miss a step, they could help you out and vice versa
  • giving yourself a time limit to complete a technique to become quicker at performing it
  • understanding the basis of a technique instead of just memorizing steps so that if something doesn’t go to plan, you know how to continue.

Get involved in optometry research

…especially if you’re interested in continuing your education or want to learn beyond your course learning objectives. There are various ways in which you can get involved:

  • Become a research assistant to experience the behind the scenes of a research project
  • Participate as a subject to learn what sort of research is happening
  • Get a job helping with pretesting, for example, performing visual field tests at a glaucoma research clinic.


Volunteering with optometry organisations, in particular, can give you more of an insight into how vision issues can affect someone’s life, allow you to make a difference, and makes a great addition to your CV. Organisations, including hospitals, are always looking for volunteers - simply Google for options in your area.

Take advantage of resources available to you

This will add to your knowledge and keep you up-to-date with any changes in the profession, making you more confident when you start working in practice. For example, actually read the suggested readings your professors give you or OT magazine, which has great business and education-based articles. Attending conferences or online seminars is another great way to add to your skills and is also a chance to meet more people in the optometry community.

Make the most of your College benefits

The College has a huge number of resources for both students and qualified members. Here are a few I use as a student and how I use them:

  1. Job board- a convenient way to find pre-reg placements
  2. Optometrist’s formulary- useful when studying pharmacology and pathology
  3. Scheme for Registration- to learn more about pre-reg

You can find the full list of student benefits on the College website.

I hope these tips are helpful, and while most of my suggestions are education based, my last tip would be to make time in your schedule for something you enjoy. Whether that’s going to the gym, going out with friends, or reading something that isn’t optometry-related. We all need to refresh our minds and taking a break from work is sometimes the best way to be productive with it.

Caitlin Walsh
Student rep, Anglia Ruskin University

Caitlin Walsh came over from Newfoundland, Canada, to study at Anglia Ruskin University. She thinks that optometry is the perfect combination of medicine and physics - and you get to work with so many different people on a daily basis. Her favourite thing about studying it is learning the clinical techniques and the theory behind them. You are most likely to find her in the lanes practicing clinical techniques. Caitlin loves learning languages so, if she wasn’t an optom, she’d be a French teacher.


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