An ambitious 22-year-old from Hounslow is celebrating after becoming one of the first in the UK to qualify early as an optometrist with Vision Express and taking up a post at the company’s flagship store.
Randeep Bal is one of only a select few in the country to qualify ahead of his peers. Typically the process takes 12-15 months, but after completing his training ahead of schedule, Randeep was able to sit his final exam four months early.
He chose to pursue optometry as a career path to complement his love of working with people with his interest in science and healthcare.
While studying for an optometry degree at Aston University in Birmingham, Randeep undertook work experience placements as an optical assistant, including a trial day at the flagship Vision Express Oxford Street store.
After impressing the Vision Express team, Randeep was offered a place to progress into pre-registration training with the company, which saw him return to the store just two days after graduating.
Randeep said: “Working at Vision Express, and especially the busy environment of its Oxford Street store, meant I was in a great position to kick-start my professional career.
“I started seeing customers on my first day and had the full support of senior team members to guide me throughout my training.”
Pre-registration marks the transition from being a student to becoming a professional optometrist, based on competencies set out by the General Optical Council.
There are three stages to pre-registration consisting of two work based assessments and a final OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) exam.
Randeep continued: “Pre-registration isn’t easy. The work based assessments comprise a range of competencies to be achieved in a minimum number of assessor visits, so there is a large amount of pressure.”
With hands-on support from Vision Express experts, Randeep quickly completed the first two stages of pre-registration in record time. He said: “I didn’t realise I was getting through them so efficiently. The first assessment usually takes three to four visits but I completed it within the minimum timeframe of three.
“It was due to this fast success rate that I was able to book onto my final exam early.”
The OSCE exam format is only available at pre-determined dates four times a year. The assessment takes place in a specialist test centre with actors staging real-life scenarios, with trainees required to perform five minute practical tasks across 17 stations.
He added: “I booked my final exam thinking I had nothing to lose by doing it early rather than waiting until the next opportunity in July, but I really wanted to pass first time.
“Vision Express has taken a continuous approach to supporting my learning and I had the chance to perfect my practical skills through the regular training events and mock examinations it holds, so I felt quite confident.”
Two weeks after sitting his final exam, Randeep received confirmation that he had passed, along with an official welcome pack to the profession in the post.
He said: “I still can’t believe that this time last year I was at university and now I am not only fully qualified but working for Vision Express. I’m really proud of these achievements.”
Determined to continue his development, Randeep is looking to his future at Vision Express with aspirations of gaining further qualifications in the eyecare field.
Randeep added: “I hope to keep growing in confidence and focusing my skills to specialise in specific areas of eye health. I know that with the support of Vision Express I can take my career even further.”
Neil Retallic, learning and development manager, Vision Express said, “Randeep has exceeded our expectations in completing his scheme for registration in such a short timeframe. We are committed to supporting each trainee to reach their full potential and achieve their personal goals by offering a dedicated support programme.”
Vision Express offers an eye test to best practice guidelines of the College of Optometrists, with each Vision Express optometrist being a qualified eye health professional. To book an eye test at Vision Express London - Oxford Street East call 0203 1318 950, visit the store at 181-183 Oxford Street, Central London, W1D 2JT or book online at www.visionexpress.com/book-eye-test/
About Vision Express
Vision Express is the third largest optical retailer in the UK and part of GrandVision,the global leader in optical retail operating across 43 countries, spanning over 5,800 stores and online.
With more than 390 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.
Vision Express is considered one of the leading and most trusted opticians in the UK and Ireland, with its European offering supported through sister eye care brands Grand Optical, Solaris and Generale D'Optique.
With around 4,000 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charity Project and include:
- Alzheimer’s Research UK
- Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
- International Glaucoma Association
- Macular Society
- Stroke Association
- Temple Street University Hospital.