More than a DO

Peter Williamson

Clinical Scientist

How long have you been a Dispensing Optician?

I qualified 9 years ago in 2010.

What made you decide to be a Dispensing Optician?

After leaving university I was working as an optical adviser at Dollond and Aitchison and found it really interested and wanted to improve my knowledge. Fortunately, the company offered to fund Student Dispensing Opticians through the ABDO course and once I started I’ve never looked back!

What's the best part of being a Dispensing Optician?

Being able to make a difference to people’s quality of life, especially in the case of young children when you watch them as they see their parents face for the first time clearly! In my new role it’s great to apply the experience of being a DO in practice and the Hospital Eye Service to help develop the student Optometrists for the future.

Tell us about being a Clinician Scientist at Aston University?

My role is split into helping to support the teaching of student Optometrists in a number of optics theory lab sessions and supervise dispensing practice in the universities dispensary. It can be quite a challenge as there is a wide variety of student abilities and you have to answer some very technical optical theory questions without a Tunnacliffe or Jalie textbook to hand! The second part of my role as a Clinician Scientist is undertaking my PhD in evaluating the use of photoscreening to improve the eye care of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. I’ve just enrolled onto the PhD so it is going to be a long but rewarding 6 years to complete!

You are also a Distance Learning Tutor tell us more.

I have always enjoyed developing people and this seemed a natural step and helps to support ABDO College and its students. I support a number of students throughout their academic year of study by marking and providing feedback on their weekly assignments, act as a point of contact between the student in practice and college academic staff, tutors also have to provide reports to the college and advise if any students are having any issues. It’s a great feeling to see how someone develops through there year of study, especially first years who may not have much optical experience, I’ve been doing it for the last 3 years and its brilliant to be able to work as part of such a great team at ABDO College to develop the next generation of DO’s.

You are Theory Examiner and Probationary Practical Examiner for ABDO, what does that entail?

Being a Theory Examiner is probably the less glamorous but no less important part of the examining process, I’m sent a number of papers by the examinations department which have to marked and returned so that the students can be awarded their grades. I have just completed the written part of the examiner course and am waiting to be invited to the practical exams to observe how its done, once I’ve gained more experience I will be able to examine students on the practical tasks and situations required to qualify.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about training to be a dispensing optician?

Do it! It’s a rewarding career and you never know where it will take you, I certainly didn’t expect to be studying for a PhD when I started out as a first year DO student!