Luke McRoy-Jones, optometry graduate, 2023

The journey since graduation

After qualifying as an Optometrist, I began working at a large, busy high street optometry practice in South Wales. I worked there for around a year and a half and during my time there, completed additional accreditations, such as Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW). 
Day-to-day, I conducted eye examinations, contact lens appointments, emergency appointments, referral refinements and follow up appointments on a diverse patient base. 
During my studies at university, I was also involved in many policy and representation positions within the profession, and I continued with these roles after I qualified. I continued working for the Association of Optometrists (AOP) on their Council, Policy Committee and also chaired their Student Committee for a couple of years after graduation. 
I represented the profession at a national level, shaping the policy work and support services of the organisation, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to my roles with the AOP, I also took on a representative position with Specsavers head office, as a Clinical Forum Representative for Wales. I worked alongside other clinicians and the Specsavers Senior Clinical Team and Board to shape the clinical strategy and direction of the organisation.
Recently, I have relocated to Malta in Europe and have begun working as an Optometrist for a leading independent group of opticians on the island. The role is similar to my practice role in the UK in that I examine a variety of patients for eye examinations, contact lens appointments and emergency eye care. I am thoroughly enjoying my time here so far. 

Career highlights

Relocating to Malta, a country that I’ve loved and travelled to for over 15 years, to work as an Optometrist has definitely been a highlight so far.
Aside from that, there are a few other things that stand out. Namely, working for the Association of Optometrists at 100% Optical in London, the largest optical conference in the United Kingdom.
Finally, a highlight so far of my career has to be winning the national Association of Optometrists (AOP) Award for Student of the Year in 2019, for which I attended a ceremony in London and was recognised alongside many amazing people in our profession. 
Pictured are comedian Jo Caulfield, who
presented the AOP Awards, Luke McRoy-Jones, and Ed Bickerstaffe, AOP Councillor for the South
West of England
Luke at the AOP Awards

The programme at Plymouth

I think that the optometry programme and team at the University of Plymouth are fantastic. The quality of teaching and the clinical supervision are excellent and matched with the superior and quality equipment and clinical facilities. The university is an outstanding environment to develop as a well-rounded and career-ready optometrist. 
What’s most refreshing about the programme at Plymouth is that the team sees students as partners, working with them to create the best environment possible. During my time at the University, the programme team had a regular and open dialogue with us and showed adaptability and flexibility, while providing us with the best resources and high-quality teaching. 
Optometry students using optometry facilities

And aside from the programme, Plymouth makes a great home, as a fantastic coastal city, with a bustling nightlife and moors, beaches, sights and walking trails on your doorstep!

Whitsand Bay, Cornwall
Smeatons Tower, The Hoe, plymouth
Female student in a demim jacket and green skirt walking down a cobbled street on the Barbican, in Plymouth, UK. 

Plymouth made me a well-rounded Optometrist

I feel that studying at Plymouth made me a well-rounded Optometrist. The programme enhanced my interpersonal skills and helped me develop clinically, academically and professionally to be able to offer the best standard of eyecare to my patients. The programme also opened many doors for me in terms of representation roles within the profession and encouraged me to have high ambitions, determination and work hard, to allow me to have a rewarding career in optometry.
Aside from the programme, relocating to Plymouth allowed me to form great lifelong friendships with many people and network, both personally and professionally. 
Optometry lecturer teaching students

Benefits of a placement

During the programme, I undertook many short placements at both optometry practices and also the Hospital Eye Service (HES). Furthermore, during the third year of the programme I practised at the University’s Centre for Eyecare Excellence (CEE) . I also worked part-time in an optometry practice alongside my degree. All of these experiences allowed me to improve my interpersonal skills and also apply my theoretical knowledge and course content to real-world patient scenarios. 
The placements allowed me to see the clinical application and presentations of the theoretical elements of the course and understand the importance of team-work and communication within a clinical setting. 
The hospital placement allowed me to better understand the complete patient journey from primary care and understand the management and treatment of a vast array of eye conditions and also emergency presentations. 
My most memorable time at CEE was when I began to see patients of my own, under supervision, and this experience allowed me to grow clinically under the guidance of the clinical supervisors and develop my clinical skills, clinical routine, decision making skills and interpersonal skills. At CEE, I performed eye examinations, contact lens appointments and dispensing and this provided an excellent foundation for my pre-registration period and career as an Optometrist.
Centre for Eyecare Excellence
Optometry facilities in the purpose built PAHC centre
Close up of an eye during at eye test by optometry students

Remember that university is a journey – both professionally and personally. You don’t have to know everything or be the best version of yourself straight away. The programme will provide you with the resources and environment to grow and develop into a well-rounded individual and Optometrist. Work hard, stay organised, learn from experience and be determined to be the best you can be! Embrace enjoy every moment – the time flies by and there are so many opportunities to meet new people, develop new skills and try new activities.

Do you want to pursue a career as an eye-care professional? 

Here at Plymouth you can benefit from a pioneering clinical degree – the first to bring optometry to the South West. Our course has been built in consultation with experts in the field and has been carefully designed to equip you with the core clinical skills, professional training and confidence required for a successful career as a General Optical Council (GOC) registered optometrist.