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Name:  Luke McRoy-Jones
Job title:  3rd Year Optometry Student/ Optical Assistant
Company:  University of Plymouth/ Specsavers
Hometown:  Caerphilly, South Wales
School subjects: I studied Biology, Mathematics, Physics and the Welsh Baccalaureate at A-level.
Qualifications:  Currently studying toward BSc (Hons) in Optometry at University of Plymouth

Tell us about your job… I’m a third year optometry student at University of Plymouth. At the moment, I spend one day per week in university studying theory and then four days per week at the university’s eye clinic. The eye clinic is a public facing optometry clinic and as such, I examine real patients, putting into practice everything I’ve learned so far. The clinic offers a range of services from eye examinations to specialist services such as myopia control, low vision and binocular vision assessments. This will give me an excellent clinical grounding ahead of my pre-registration year next year.

Since the first year of my degree, I’ve also worked for Specsavers. Therefore, I spend my weekends, alongside university, working in Plymouth and then I work at our Caerphilly practice during the summer. Specsavers Caerphilly also doubles up as my pre-registration practice. I’ve therefore been able to become familarised with the team and environment ahead of joining the company as a Pre-Registration Optometrist (Graduate Optometrist) next year. Working for Specsavers alongside my degree, I’ve been able to gain experience in dispensing and contact lenses and have further developed my interpersonal skills. I’ve also had the opportunity to work alongside qualified optometrists, contact lens opticians and dispensing opticians who are keen to support my learning and aid my clinical development.

What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy interacting with patients and problem solving, which is why optometry was a great choice initially. Working in a busy Specsavers practice is really enjoyable and you meet a vast amount of diverse people, with different needs on a daily basis. This means that no two days are the same and the working day is varied!

From an optometry point of view, I currently find Low Vision really interesting at university and therefore, I am keen to explore this area further once I’ve become a fully qualified optometrist.

What inspired you to start your career?
When I was growing up, both my parents working in the optical industry, with them both starting their careers at Specsavers. My father worked as a Practice Manager for some of my childhood and later worked for a domiciliary eyecare provider. Therefore, I have fond memories of going to work with him in my holidays, either in the practice environment or going on domiciliary visits with him. Therefore, I was exposed to optics at an early age and as I grew older, I developed an interest in science. I did some work experience at a practice and optometry, as a career choice, seemed the perfect fit.

What route did you take to your career and why?
While I was studying for my A-levels in South Wales, I did some work experience and got a part-time job at a local independent opticians. It cemented my career choice and I applied for optometry through the UCAS route, during Year 13.

How important was studying STEM subjects in school for what you do now and did you enjoy it?
Studying STEM subjects was pivotal, as the theory and clinical skills involved in optometry are all underpinned by scientific principles. At university, a lot of the theory of the degree is science based and therefore, having A-levels in these subjects has given me a good grounding.

What personal qualities do you think are important for your role?
As well as an appetite for science, I think that you need great people skills to be an optometrist. Optometry is a patient centred profession and the vast amount of optometrists work in high street practice, where you will interact with many different people each day.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Alongside university, I have a few extra responsibilities. Namely, I also work for the Association of Optometrists (our professional organisation) on their Council and Policy Committee. This is something I really enjoy and allows me to help shape the profession I’m entering.

Aside from my extra responsibilities, I enjoy socialising with friends and try to keep my fitness up with the gym, swimming and the odd run. I’ve completed a few half marathons and up until going to university, I was a member of a local running club (Caerphilly Runners).