Optometry Jobs & Recruitment in the UK
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Working as an optometrist is a complex and rewarding career. There are around 15,000 optometrists practising in the UK, who work with complex machinery and technology on a daily basis. Responsibilities cover everything from providing general eye tests to diagnosing eye diseases like cataracts.
These challenging roles, whether in high-street practices, NHS and private hospitals, or eye clinics, combine technical know-how with interpersonal skills to provide top-quality care to patients.
What is an optometrist?
Optometrists examine and diagnose illness and injury in the eyes of patients using specialised machinery and tools.
They prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses, make specialist referrals, offer clinical advice and can also be the first line in diagnosing other, seemingly unrelated diseases and injuries. A detailed eye exam from an experienced practitioner could highlight serious conditions, including diabetes or high blood pressure.
Positions available in this sector range from opticians and specialist nurses to orthoptists, who diagnose and treat defects in binocular vision and abnormalities of eye movement. There are also ophthalmologists who specialise in eye surgery.
Optometrists jobs based in hospitals commonly deal with more serious diseases of the eye. These include macular degeneration, or glaucoma, where the optic nerve is damaged by pressure inside the eye.
Their work can take them to many different areas of the healthcare sector. These include everything from independent and chain high-street optometrists to hospitals, health centres and community clinics.
As an optometrist, you will have the opportunity to work in both the private sector and the NHS, depending on your chosen career path and skills.
How to become an optometrist
If you’re thinking about training in this field, you’ll need to obtain a specialist degree. To get on the relevant course, you’ll need a minimum of five GCSEs. These must include Science, English and Maths. You’ll also need at least three A Levels, two in science subjects. Following the completion of your BSc degree, you will need to undertake a one-year pre-registration, supervised work placement with an experienced optometrist.
Finally, you need to become registered with the General Optical Council, which oversees the UK’s optometry profession. For this you must pass a final GOC assessment.
If you’re currently a dispensing optician, you may be able to retrain in optometry, but you’d still need to complete a degree and the supervised work placement prior to your registration.
This is a multi-skilled role and requires a wide range of technical and interpersonal skills.
Working with highly specialist instruments and equipment, from retinal cameras and phoropters to keratometers, means optometrists have to have extensive technical skills. Attention to detail is a must when examining and diagnosing such an intricate part of the anatomy.
This role also sees you dealing closely with patients, so excellent interpersonal and communications skills are essential.
How much do optometrists earn?
As a starting point, a newly-qualified optometrist’s salary is around £25,000 per annum, depending on supply and demand. For example, you can potentially earn more in areas where there are fewer optometrists and the need for them is higher.
In terms of progression, an optometrist can undertake further training once they are qualified to specialise in certain specific eye treatments, which may include therapeutic drugs.
Once you are qualified in this area and have gained experience in the field or have branched out into a specialty, you may have the opportunity to earn upwards of £60,000, particularly if you reach managerial levels. Salaries also depend on the type of role you undertake.
Locum optometry jobs are also available across the UK. These flexible positions allow you to work in a multitude of different environments, locations and departments.
In doing this, you choose when and where you work so you have total flexibility over your working hours, and can gain extensive experience in the process.
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