Deepali is a student dispensing optician (DO) with Specsavers, and is in the final year of her ophthalmic dispensing course at ABDO College. She combines a full time job with online study and block release. Read on to find out more about her day.

As a student DO, I spend my day dispensing a variety of patients, from elderly to children. Within that, I dispense a variety of prescription lenses such a single vision, varifocals, occupational lenses and bifocals. I also am able to find the best frame to suit the patients needs and preferences. 

As a DO, we are seen as frame and lens specialists which means if any visual concerns or fittings arise then we are the go-to person. It is a good idea to jump into these as much as you can as you learn through the process. Whilst we learn the theory of lenses in college, putting it into practice is harder than it seems. No patient concern is the same and so you learn something every time. This means our problem solving skills and communication with patients are being built day to day.

I have also had my fair share of low vision patients come through the door. I am lucky enough to spend time with them to understand their needs and able to advise them appropriately.

The best part about studying and working at the same time is you’re constantly learning new bits whilst being able to put it into practice. However the hardest part of the role is keeping on top of deadlines.

As a student DO (SDO), we are also required to collect specific case records so I usually end the day by looking through the diary and checking for any potential patients who may fit my categories. This can by checking their DOB and their patient history. I then begin the next day by letting my colleagues know who I would like to see for my records and make sure I am available to see them. We also need to check and focimeter (measure) a number of jobs so I also make sure to pop into the lab at some point in the day to check the jobs before they come back to the shop floor. All of these things have allowed me to stay on top of my studies whilst excelling in my role as a SDO.

This might sound a little daunting as it is step up from just working. My top tips would be to stay organised and make a plan of what needs to be done to ensure you meet deadlines. Also speak to your supervisor on a regular basis as they will definitely be able to guide you throughout your studies.