Juneid, Senior Refractive Optometrist, Bolton/Preston

When Juneid was asked if he’d like to be one of the first Optical Express optometrists to go on the Independent Prescribing (IP) course, he didn’t have to think twice. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Through its partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University, Optical Express funds the course for its optometrists, and Juneid was accepted as a member of the first cohort for IP.

Juneid smiles, “I’ve always been interested in IP. When Optical Express started to offer places on its own IP course to its optometrists, of course I accepted! I feel like IP is the future of optometry, so I was delighted to be given a place on the course last April.”

With an Optical Express career stretching back to 2005, Juneid had already taken up a number of development opportunities throughout the years. Having started in the business while still at university, he completed his pre-reg in Optical Express in Bolton. After a few years spent gaining experience in day to day optics, he undertook refractive surgery training to become a Senior Refractive Optometrist and now works in both Bolton and Preston.

“I’ve found Optical Express to be dedicated to developing its employees, and I don’t believe I’d have had the same opportunities elsewhere,” says Juneid. Did he have any reservations about the IP course? “I have a young family, and I knew that it would place huge demands on my time. Although it wouldn’t be easy, it’s an investment in my future as I believe that IP will become increasingly important in the future.”

Having the IP qualification means that Juneid will be able to clinically assess patients, make a diagnosis, determine what clinical management is needed and prescribe medication when required. “Once I have my IP qualification, I won’t have to refer back to anyone else when a patient has an eye condition or injury,” he says. “I’m very glad that optometry isn’t just about glasses and contact lenses any more!”

Juneid began his IP course in April 2017. Specially arranged for its optometrists through the partnership between Optical Express and Glasgow Caledonian University, it consists of 3 modules with an exam at the end of each. Juneid remarks, “Travel to Glasgow is required from time to time, for study days and the exams, though the costs are covered by the company. I used my own time for this, and I also had to study pretty hard every week, so a bit of juggling was required!”

He found it helpful that he was already using some of the elements covered on the course during his working day. “Perhaps someone would attend with an injury, infection or an inflammatory condition – I was able to use that as practical experience for IP.

When you’ve completed your IP qualification you can prescribe any medication within your field of work which the British National Formulary allows, apart from eye injections. You will be able to pre-check patients and follow through in their treatment, writing prescriptions which they can take to the pharmacy, and check on their progress.”

The next step for Juneid is to complete a log book during a specialist placement with an ophthalmologist on the Specialist Register in Ophthalmology of the General Medical Council.

He’ll be tasked with writing confidential case records for patients, describing their condition and his proposed management of it. Approximately a hundred case records will make up the logbook, and once signed off by his mentor it is passed to the College of Optometrists for approval.

He’ll take a final exam, along with some of his Optical Express colleagues, in order to become a fully-fledged, IP-qualified optometrist. From start to finish, Juneid will have been studying for around 18 months to achieve his IP qualification.

What are his thoughts about the IP course now that the end is in sight? “The fact that there’s no financial outlay thanks to Optical Express is great,” he explains. “You do need to be very committed as it takes up so much of your time, but it really is worth it. There’s so much more pressure on the NHS and GPs these days, and in the coming years High Street opticians will be a much more accessible option for patients who need treatment for eye conditions.”

Finally, does Juneid have any words of wisdom for other optometrists who may feel they’re stuck on a sight test treadmill, or who have been considering the IP course but are yet to take the plunge? “Go for it! It’s perfect for anyone who wants a more meaningful optometric role and likes to think outside the box. If you know any optometrists who are already IP trained, you can start the ball rolling by asking them about their experience. The course will certainly exercise your brain, but it’s definitely the future of eye care.”

If you are interested in joining Optical Express and gaining access to our industry leading training, then contact our Recruitment team who’ll be happy to let you know what opportunities we have across the UK and what other development opportunities we can offer you. You can contact us at careers@opticalexpress.com or 01236 795146.

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