Why have a career as an Optometrist?
Optometrists are the major providers of primary eye care in the UK. They are trained healthcare professionals who examine eyes to detect sight defects, ocular disease, abnormalities and signs of general health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. They also prescribe and supply glasses, contact lenses and low vision aids.
When appropriate, optometrists refer patients to other health care professionals and can co-manage the patient’s condition. Optical professionals in the UK are regulated by the General Optical Council (GOC), which is the statutory body for UK optometrists and dispensing opticians. Only registered optometrists (and registered medical practitioners) can perform eye examinations and write prescriptions for optical corrections.
To qualify for registration, optometrists study at university for at least three years in order to gain a Bachelor of Science (Optometry) degree with a final degree classification of 2(ii) or higher. This gives the student exemption from Part 1 of the Professional Qualifying Examination and allows direct entry into the pre-registration period (subject to visa regulations). If the competencies or the required degree classification are not obtained, the student will need to discuss the remedial steps needed with the College of Optometrists, before progressing on to their pre-registration training.
Graduates then complete a Pre-Registration Period (http://www.college-optometrists.org/index.aspx/pcms/site.education.ex.sfr.sfr_home/) of training , including work based assessment and supervision by a experienced optometrists. They then proceed to pass a practical Final Assessment examination based on the GOC Stage 2 core competencies for optometry. At this point you become qualified and can register to practise Optometry in the United Kingdom.
After registration optometrists can choose a career in a variety of settings, such as private practice, the hospital eye service, industry, or at universities conducting research and teaching.
You can find profiles of these different roles here
Registration opens possibilities to work abroad as well, and an optometry qualification from the UK is highly regarded worldwide.
In the UK optometrists enjoy being part of a respected profession with good salaries. Job prospects are generally good, and flexible working is common - great for families.