If you are awaiting exam results in a state of trepidation, read this article from newly qualified dispensing optician Matthew. We covered a day in his life as a student DO – now he is ready for his first fully qualified role! Well done Matthew, it’s inspiring to read your story.

On the Thursday morning, 11 August 2022, around 1am I ran upstairs and woke my wife up. She was confused until she heard my words; “I passed! I bl**dy well passed!” 

I was browsing the ABDO page just to see if anything had been uploaded and there it was, the initials FBDO by my name. 

Ecstatic was an understatement. Excitedly I sent messages to my family, friends and peers and wasn’t able to go back to sleep until three in the morning. 

A few weeks before this, I took my final qualifying exams at the NRC. I originally postponed as I thought I would not get enough case studies in time.

However, one day before the final due date I managed to get them all collected. 

I emailed the head of examinations who said he would see if there were any cancellations – but there weren’t. Then 8.30am the following morning, I received a call to say there had been a cancellation; I was able to sit my FQE practicals on time. 

Still now, I pinch myself to think these three years of studying and training, with a resit of two year 2 exams and here I am, a qualified dispensing optician. 

Of course, I would have to wait for my official GOC number to come through. I applied the Friday morning after my exams, paid my fees and was told it could take up to 10 working days. The following Monday, at 2.25pm just after I fitted a child’s spectacles and had the optometrist check them, I received my GOC number. The next time a child came in I would be able to fit their spectacles without supervision.

That was it; someone had pushed the button and I suddenly became responsible for myself, no safety blanket anymore. 

Again, I was excited and had some slight trepidation. 

And of course, very few children seemend to come in.

Finally, though, I got supervise a child’s dispense, completed my first child collection and several children’s repairs followed through. I also got to write my first copy of prescription for a patient. Amazing! 

So many doors have opened, and my LinkedIn professional profile has gone crazy with various roles now within grasp. In fact, the choices I have to make are putting me in a predicament and leaving me in a state of confusion. What do I do? Shall I change company? 

I decided to make applications elsewhere, ready to start my next chapter in my optical career. However, my passion for patient centred care and paediatrics has deepened, knowing that I am now qualified and equipped to do this. 

I started Boots Opticians seven years ago and my optical training was 200 yards away from the NRC for my final exams. Despite being only 200 yards away, it took seven years to get across it. 

And as I write this, I still pinch myself and say, “you did it mate, you’re a dispensing optician”. 

I’m now looking forward to celebrating at graduation in November.

Matthew Farrugia FBDO