STEP® is delivered by an excellent team of knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and experienced faculty members who have played an integral role in creating the foundations to continuously evolve STEP® to champion innovative learning for optometry students.

Working alongside the faculty members are a group of Newly Qualified STEP® Mentors. The mentors are STEP® graduates themselves and provide invaluable support and guidance to current pre-registration students.

Learn more about our faculty members and mentors and why they enjoy being a part of STEP®, simply click on their name or photo.


FACULTY MEMBERS

Bina Patel BSc (Hons) MCOptom FHEA
Clair Bulpin Clair Bulpin BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Paed Eye Care
Colin Davidson Colin Davidson BSc (Hons) FCOptom Dip TP(IP)
Hasan Akhtar Hasan Akhtar BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret Prof Cert Glau AFHE
Kiran Bola BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Louise Munns Louise Munns BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Meerat Gohlar Meerat Gohlar MOptom MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret Prof Cert Glaucoma
Philippa Shaw Philippa Shaw BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Robyn Marsden BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Stephen Freeman Stephen Freeman BSc(Hons) MCOptom FBDO(Hons) FHEA Cert.Ed.
Theresa Adamson Theresa Adamson BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Tina Chudasama Tina Chudasama BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret

JUNIOR FACULTY MEMBERS

Alex Thornton Alex Thornton BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Amy Strang Amy Strang BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Benji Chandra Benji Chandra MOptom Prof Cert Glau
Haneen Iqbal Haneen Iqbal BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Hassnain Safdar Hassnain Safdar BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Josephine Evans Josephine Evans BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Glauc
Lucy Roper Lucy Roper BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret Prof Cert Glauc

STEP® MENTORS

Aaisha Anwar Aaisha Anwar BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Adilah Mahmood Adilah Mahmood BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Alice Buckingham Alice Buckingham BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Alicia Fothergill Alicia Fothergill BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Annabel Wall Annabel Wall BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Hatim Hassanali Hatim Hassanali BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Jaspreet Johal Jaspreet Johal BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Jenny Cooper Jenny Cooper BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Jetal Patel Jetal Patel BOptom MCOptom
Kamini Mistry Kamini Mistry BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Kayleigh Malpas Kayleigh Malpas BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Naila Abid Naila Abid BSc (Hons) MCOptom
Neha Bhayani Neha Bhayani BSc (Hons) MCOptom

FACULTY MEMBERS

Bina Patel

Bina Patel BSc (Hons) MCOptom FHEA

Bina studied at City University of London where, in 2001, she graduated with a first-class honours degree in Optometry. Since registration she has worked in a number of roles in community practice, including pre-registration supervisor and mentor. Presently she works as a Clinical Tutor at City University of London, an Assessor for the College of Optometrists, and a Case Examiner for the General Optical Council.

Since 2016 Bina has been part of Johnson & Johnson Vision Faculty, where she is involved in delivering training and education to student, trainee, and newly qualified optometrists through STEP®. She enjoys being part of such an experienced and expert team, that are all so passionate about the profession. STEP® allows Bina to use her skills and love of teaching and training, as well as the knowledge from her other roles, to help develop the future of optometry.

Clair Bulpin

Clair Bulpin BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Paed Eye Care

Clair graduated from Cardiff University with a first-class honors degree and post qualification, has undertaken a variety of roles including practice management. She has supervised numerous pre-registration students and has worked in both multiple and independent practice.

Clair has been a faculty member since 2006 and loves the interactive, open, and honest discussions with peers. She never fails to take away something herself from each of the courses she helps to deliver. Her enthusiasm for developing pre-regs led her into College of Optometrists Assessor and Examiner roles and ultimately into the STEP® faculty team. She truly believes that an Optometrist has a real opportunity to make a difference and is passionate about supporting the new generation of Optometrists to share this understanding and belief. STEP® helps students to relate to the ‘human being’ behind the set of eyes and she loves helping students reach their full potential through the education that STEP® provides.

Colin Davidson

Colin Davidson BSc (Hons) FCOptom Dip TP(IP)

Colin is program lead for independent prescribing at the University of Hertfordshire and supports the university Masters of Optometry programme. He also works at Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton as part of the medical retina team in uveitis and PVD clinics, and in independent practice in Sussex. He is a senior assessor for the College of Optometrists, and an OSCE chief examiner.

Colin was awarded Diploma in Independent Prescribing Dip TP(IP) in 2011, and Fellowship of the College in 2013. Colin has supervised many pre-registration trainees and he has been a member of the education faculty at Johnson & Johnson Vision since 2011. As one of the STEP® leads he helps to deliver training and support to both current pre-registration students and newly qualified optometrists. He enjoys helping pre-regs engage with STEP® and encourages them to use the things they learn through STEP® to help benefit their patients in practice.

Hasan Akhtar

Hasan Akhtar BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret Prof Cert Glau AFHE

Hasan graduated from Aston University in 2016 with a first-class honours degree and has since settled in an independent opticians while working back at the university as a clinical supervisor. He has recently become a pre-reg supervisor and sits on the board for his Local Optical Committee due to his interest in the future of optometry.

Hasan joined the faculty following on from experiencing STEP® first-hand a trainee. Being part of the programme provided endless training and support to become a qualified optometrist but furthermore enhanced his skills as a newly qualified clinician too. This inspired him to want to provide the same support to others using a digital platform to reach out to everyone in the profession. Engaging and interacting with trainees is what Hasan enjoys the most and has been able to do this in his role as faculty. He has loved being able to connect with trainees as a mentor, creating interactive posts for social media as well as delivering virtual classes where he hopes to inspire trainees to be the best they can be. No matter what stage of the career, there is always opportunity to learn something new and STEP® is able to help unlock this potential.

Kiran Bola

Kiran Bola BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Kiran graduated from University of Manchester with a first-class honors degree in 2015 and has since worked in independent practice. She is also a clinical supervisor at Aston University and has recently taken the role of Treasurer for her Local Optical Committee.

Kiran joined the faculty due to her own personal experience of STEP® as a student. She found the programme to be a huge support system during her training and was grateful for the accessible learning resources, teaching workshops and online virtual classes which built her confidence and expertise to succeed in her examinations and beyond. She now thoroughly enjoys being a part of an amazing faculty team to help develop the skills and knowledge for current students in the way she was helped herself. She especially enjoys creating accessible content alongside her colleagues for the STEP® Instagram page, organising team related fundraising challenges for inspirational eye related charities and ultimately being part of a network of teaching resources for undergraduates, pre-registration trainees and newly qualified optometrists to feel fully supported from.

Louise Munns

Louise Munns BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Louise graduated with a first-class honours degree from Bradford University and has since enjoyed working in a variety of practices in the UK and abroad. Louise developed a keen interest in education early in her career teaching undergraduates and delivering CET in her role as a Tutor Practitioner at Aston University. In 1997 she became a College of Optometrists Examiner, and she is now a Chief Examiner for Final Assessment and a Senior Assessor which she combines with work as a clinic supervisor and DOCET assessor.

The opportunity to join the faculty in 2010 was an exciting new venture. Louise has been an enthusiastic member of the team, helping to deliver and develop a wide variety of innovative education and courses. However, it is the development of STEP® that she has found most enjoyable, focussing her energy on finding new ways of engaging with young professionals and indulging her passion for educating undergraduate and pre-registration students. Louise wants to share her experiences and knowledge, especially in the fields of anterior eye assessment and contact lens fitting, by engaging with those who can influence the future of the profession. Louise finds the enthusiasm for learning shown by many who participate in STEP® inspirational.

Meerat Gohlar

Meerat Gohlar MOptom MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret Prof Cert Glaucoma

Meerat graduated from Aston university in 2016, and completed her Professional Certificate in Medical Retina and Professional Certificate in Glaucoma in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Meerat is a full-time resident optometrist at a multiple practice, where she started her journey as a pre-registration optometrist. Her clinical responsibilities include supervising pre-registration optometrists and attending patient clinics.

STEP® has played an integral part in Meerat’s evolution from university student to registered optometrist. STEP® consistently offered support in clinical understanding through face to face and virtual elements in a clear, digestible manner.

Meerat joined Johnson and Johnson Vision as a STEP® mentor with the intention to empower future generations of optometrists, the same way STEP® had empowered her. Pursuing her interest in mentoring others has allowed her to network and connect with other passionate and inspiring professionals. She thoroughly enjoys her current roles as Lead STEP® Mentor and Faculty, working alongside her colleagues, organising fundraising events, delivering courses at the Institute and most recently hosting sessions virtually!

Meerat’s relationship with STEP® has built her appetite to positively influence the profession, exemplified by her becoming an assessor and facilitator for a number of qualifications and events respectively, delivered by her current employer as well as becoming vice chair for her Local Optical Committee.

Philippa Shaw

Philippa Shaw BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Philippa graduated from Cardiff and has worked in practice for over 30 years. For many years she worked for a multiple, as a supervisor in practice and then Clinical Development Manager looking after pre-regs and developing and training optometrists in the Southwest.

She currently works in several roles as a College of Optometrists examiner and senior assessor, DOCET Training Adviser, runs training courses for doctors, and is a third-year clinic supervisor at UWE is on the GOC Fitness to Practise Committee.

Philippa has been a faculty member since 2013 and enjoys meeting and working with a wide range of practitioners to improve their clinical skills, her special interests are contact lenses and communication. She particularly enjoys working with pre-regs on STEP®, helping to support them through their pre-reg year and building their confidence during their first years in practice.

As part of the faculty, she loves working with the highly experienced faculty team, being involved in the interactive courses, and so constantly learning new things. She is highly enthusiastic about the current opportunities available to optometrists entering the profession and through STEP® being able to help them develop themselves and make a positive difference to their patients.

Robyn Marsden

Robyn Marsden BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Robyn graduated from Bradford University with a first-class honors degree and since then has worked in multiple and independent practice, in management roles supervising pre-registration students and also running student clinics at Bradford University. She also works as an assessor for the College of Optometrists and writes CET for Johnson & Johnson Vision.

Robyn’s faculty journey started in 2013, facilitating courses at the Johnson & Johnson Institute, allowing her to share her passion for excellent communication, patient care and most of all collaboration with fellow clinicians on all aspects of our profession. STEP® has been a fantastic edition to the offering that Johnson & Johnson Vision can provide to Optometrists - allowing trainees to learn and develop side by side through various face to face and virtual mediums supported by a bank of invaluable learning resources. Robyn immensely enjoys her role in the STEP® team - especially as she feels she gains knowledge and insight for her own role as an Optometrist with each encounter.

Stephen Freeman

Stephen Freeman BSc(Hons) MCOptom FBDO(Hons) FHEA Cert.Ed.

Stephen is an Optometrist based in South Devon and undertakes a variety of roles. He is an Assessor and Final Assessment Examiner for the Scheme for Registration of the College of Optometrists. He is also Chief Examiner for the College and sits on the Quality Assurance panel for Final Assessment and Scheme for Registration Performance panel as well as the OSCE development group. A CET advisor for ABDO and the internal moderator for ABDO’s Contact Lens Visual Optics Theory Paper and also the External Examiner for both City University London’s Introduction to Optometry Foundation Degree and the Masters in Optometry at the University of Hertfordshire.

Stephen, who originally qualified as a Dispensing Optician, started his teaching role in 1986 when he was appointed as full-time lecturer at City and Islington College (CIC). He then studied at City University and qualified as an Optometrist in 1995 and returned to full time teaching at CIC then as Senior Lecturer in Visual Optics. Following a desire to relocate from London to the South West, he was appointed Clinical Development Manager. This role combined working in practice as a supervisor and in-house training. In 2009 Stephen decided to become self-employed to give himself the flexibility to continue working in practice while still examining and assessing for the professional bodies and other consultancy work, and back to teaching in higher education at the University of Plymouth’s Optometry programme.

He has had several publications in peer reviewed professional journals and has been an invited speaker at a number of CET events both in the UK and overseas.

Stephen has been a faculty member at for the Johnson & Johnson Institute since June 2010 and enjoys the learning environment, the diversity of the delegates and the range of experience within the faculty. His experience in all aspects of the student journey from undergraduate, pre-registration, newly qualified and beyond led him directly into the STEP® faculty team. He believes being part of the STEP® process really offers him the opportunity to help and develop those undertaking what can sometimes be a challenging process.

Theresa Adamson

Theresa Adamson BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Theresa graduated from Manchester University in 2009 with a first-class honours degree and since qualifying has worked in a range of multiple settings as an Optometrist and supervisor of Pre-Registration Optometrists and Student Dispensing Opticians. Alongside working in practice, she sits on the GOC Fitness to Practise Hearing Panel, works as a DOCET assessor for CET submissions and has recently been taken on as a College of Optometrists Assessor and Examiner.

Theresa joined the faculty team soon after qualification, initially as an online forum rep to help support Pre-Registration students’ having been the first cohort to sit the current OSCE format. From there her role developed and she thoroughly enjoys working as part of an amazing faculty team to deliver educational content. Over the years she has particularly enjoyed helping to create content and build STEP®, which has evolved in many ways to support many optometrists through their training and in the early stages of qualified practice. For her being involved in STEP® and seeing students progress from undergraduate through to newly qualified is so rewarding and she loves being able to celebrate with those newly qualified optometrists who ‘graduate’ from STEP® at the end of the programme.

Tina Chudasama

Tina Chudasama BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret

Tina graduated from the University of Manchester in 2015 and carried out her pre-registration and newly qualified years in a busy multiple practice. She then moved to London to work in an independent practice, and further her knowledge by pursuing postgraduate qualifications. Currently, Tina works as a resident optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, whilst also continuing community practice locum work.

Tina was initially affiliated with the STEP® team as a student on the reference group. As she engaged through the whole STEP® process, from carrying out different learning modules to attending several courses, she was able to provide student-based feedback to the STEP® team. She found both the material and courses extremely useful during her pre-registration year, helping her gain confidence whilst examining patients in practice. After receiving a huge amount of support, herself via STEP®, she developed an enthusiasm for guiding students to enhancing their skills and knowledge as new generation optometrists. This led her to become part of the STEP® faculty team, carrying out the role of STEP® mentor and ultimately onto a STEP® lead mentor role. She particularly enjoys carrying out virtual classes for students, providing a support system to mentors, and being part of an inspirational, diverse team to bounce ideas off.

JUNIOR FACULTY MEMBERS

Alex Thornton

Alex Thornton BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Alex graduated from Cardiff University in 2017 and went straight into a pre-reg position at a small group of independent opticians in Cheshire, North Wales, and Shropshire. Following qualification, he stayed at the same practice specialising in dry eye and specialist contact lens fitting. He is currently working towards his Professional Certificate in Glaucoma and his Independent Prescribing Diploma. He also sits on the council for the Association of Independent Optometrists. STEP® helped me throughout my pre-reg as it developed my understanding of each topic enabling me to apply my knowledge to many variations of each topic instead of being told the answer to individual questions. The benefit of STEP® is the wide variety of support available, through mentors, Junior Faculty and Senior Faculty with differing and varying knowledge and experience of the scheme for registration making it hard to find a question that can’t be answered! I love being on the faculty team as I know how valuable support and guidance is throughout the scheme so being able to provide that for others is fantastic.

Amy Strang

Amy Strang BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Being a part of the STEP® team has greatly enhanced my capabilities as an Optometrist, by further establishing the vital skills required to be an effective clinician for all patients. From starting out as an undergraduate student, into the whirlwind pre-registration year and then finally stepping out into the world of qualifying, STEP® is there every step of the way to provide an essential support network that enhances your skills and knowledge year on year. The practical workshops and online tutorials on everything from contact lenses to communicating effectively with patients, is carried with you throughout your career. The support and resources provided by the team is completely unique and the programme also introduces us into the wider world that optometry has to offer. STEP®, and progressing as a STEP® Mentor, allows us to be part of something bigger within the optometry community, to enhance and support the future of our profession.

Benji Chandra

Benji Chandra MOptom Prof Cert Glau

Benjamin (Benji) Chandra qualified in August 2018 after being part of STEP® throughout university. He found the program very useful throughout pre-registration and viewed the STEP® OSCE course as the gold standard for his preparation. The newly qualified course was a great preparation for starting his qualified life, so he gladly took the opportunity to join on as a STEP® Mentor. He is now looking forward to helping the team as a junior faculty member. He is committed to supporting STEP® as an exceptional educational program for the future members of the profession.

Haneen Iqbal

Haneen Iqbal BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Haneen started her journey with STEP® in 2015 when she was a student at the University of Plymouth. It was at university, she decided to join STEP®. Haneen graduated with a first-class honours degree in 2016. She then went on and completed the Scheme for Registration in 2017 with the support of STEP®.

Haneen works for an Independent Opticians in Reading, where she sees a wide variety of patients and is involved in myopia control and colorimetry. She is also undertaking training to complete her independent prescribing (IP) qualification.

Haneen thoroughly enjoyed being part of STEP® as it allowed her to develop clinically as well as the opportunity to network with a wide variety of individuals from varying aspects of optometry. As a faculty member, her favourite aspects include engaging with students and helping them to develop into professionals. Delivering virtual classes is one of Haneen’s favourite parts of being part of the faculty. STEP® has given her the opportunity to work alongside other faculty members with a wide breadth of expertise and feels that this has helped her develop into the individual she is today.

Hassnain Safdar

Hassnain Safdar BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Hassnain has been part of the STEP® family since his final year at university where he attended the Institute as an undergraduate. After passing his pre-reg and completing STEP®, he was then chosen to be one of our STEP® mentors to help other trainees during their pre-registration year. In 2019, he joined as a member of the Junior faculty and now assists with the delivery of STEP®. Hassnain mentions the STEP® journey has helped him to transition into a more well-rounded Optometrist in all aspects, from improving his clinical skills with patients to communication and teaching skills in his current role as a member of our faculty which he finds really rewarding.

Aside from his faculty duties, he remains actively involved in the wider world of Optics through his work as a Locum Optometrist in both multiple and independent practices across the East Midlands; LOC Committee member for Leicestershire and Rutland; Council Member for the College of Optometrists East Midlands region and is currently studying for the Independent Prescribing qualification.

Josephine Evans

Josephine Evans BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Glauc

Josie studied at the University of Manchester and qualified as an Optometrist in 2018. She spends her week working in a small group of independent practices in London, in addition to a role as a Visiting Clinical Tutor at City University.

Josie valued the contribution of STEP® throughout her Optometry education, from an undergraduate to a newly qualified Optometrist. The online learning modules complimented her independent study during the pre-registration year, helping to organise her thoughts and aid her revision. Josie always looked forward to attending courses at the Johnson & Johnson Institute. She found the Newly Qualified Course a wonderful opportunity to meet with peers at a similar stage and to begin planning the next steps in her career.

Josie thoroughly enjoys her responsibilities as part of the STEP® faculty team and the courses continue to be a highlight. She finds great reward in helping pre-registration Optometrists on their journey to qualification and working with the team to develop new content and learning materials.

Lucy Roper

Lucy Roper BSc (Hons) MCOptom Prof Cert Med Ret Prof Cert Glauc

Lucy graduated from Cardiff University in 2017 and qualified as an Optometrist in 2018. Since then, she has practised in a busy multiple setting in Herefordshire. Alongside this she has gained Professional Certificates in Glaucoma and Medical Retina and is enjoying supervising a Pre-Registration Optometrist. Lucy is also a reference group member for Newly Qualified Optometrists with the College of Optometrists.

“I am so pleased to be working as Junior Faculty with the Johnson & Johnson Institute. The support that I received from STEP® as a pre-reg was invaluable. From the extra resources to mock examinations with detailed feedback, I am grateful for the continuous guidance provided. I am looking forward to supporting pre-reg’s through STEP® as this is the time where they make the challenging transition from being a student to a clinician.”

STEP® MENTORS

Aaisha Anwar

Aaisha Anwar BSc (Hons) MCOptom

After graduating in 2018 from Aston University, Aaisha embarked on her pre-registration year and enrolled on STEP® following successful completion of the undergraduate course. During this challenging year, the content within STEP® was a valuable asset to have. The programme gave access to informative virtual classes in topics such as soft lens and RGP fitting and revision resources as well as a mock OSCE to prepare for the last stage in qualification. After completing STEP® during her pre-reg, Aaisha chose to be a STEP® mentor to enable her to encourage and advise Steppers on how to make the best use of the resources provided to prepare for visits and ultimately the OSCE. Having recently completed her pre-reg, the experience is still very much fresh and using the STEP® mentor platform is a great way to provide support to new students entering the process. Following successful completion of the scheme for registration in July 2019, she is now a newly qualified optometrist working in community practice and is currently working towards obtaining her professional certificate in medical retina.

Adilah Mahmood

Adilah Mahmood BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Adilah is an Optometrist currently working for Vision Express based in Coventry as a full-time resident. She graduated from Aston University and completed her Pre-Registration training with Vision Express in 2019. She accredits a large part of her success during Pre-Reg to the support network and resources provided through STEP®. Attendance to the virtual classes and guidance from the faculty members allowed Adilah to prepare adequately for assessments. Reminders and advice from her STEP® mentor enhanced her organisation and focus.

Visiting the Johnson & Johnson Institute and participation in workshops during the Newly Qualified Course proved beneficial in replacing the apprehensiveness of just becoming a newly qualified optometrist with excitement and reassurance.

It is from these experiences on STEP®, along with many others, that inspired Adilah to apply for a STEP® Mentor position. She looks forward to her role in supporting future Pre-Reg students.

Alice Buckingham

Alice Buckingham BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Alice currently works as a resident Optometrist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals with experience of supervising a trainee Optometrist. She wanted to use her own personal STEP® journey and experiences as a hospital trainee to allow scheme for registration Optometrists to grow and develop in a supported environment. Working in the hospital setting meant that Alice realised the importance of support during the scheme. She wanted to be able to guide individuals by being a readily available source of support, as well as a friendly face to build many trainees confidence and contribute towards their success.

As Alice completed her scheme for registration in the hospital setting, STEP® provided a solid support foundation outside of the workplace. She particularly enjoyed being able to discuss and ask questions within her WhatsApp STEP® mentor group throughout the scheme. Any concerns she had could be raised with her mentor. The online modules supplemented her learning and relaxed her nerves for Stage 2 and the OSCE’s through the webinar and OSCE mock.

Alicia Fothergill

Alicia Fothergill BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Alicia has been qualified since July 2019 and currently works in Hospital Optometry.

She really enjoyed being part of STEP® as an undergraduate but more importantly found it to be invaluable as a pre-reg hospital optometrist. It was wonderful to have a support network of people going through the same experiences. It was helpful to be able to ask any questions without fear of being judged or not knowing the answers which was incredibly reassuring. STEP® also had a useful selection of resources in order to guide one through the registration system and identify the best things to revise, which was really useful when preparing for monitoring visits.

Alicia wanted to become a STEP® Mentor in order to give back and provide other pre regs with a similar level of support that she experienced. The pre reg year is a stressful one and having someone knowledgeable and caring to offer pointers about things to research or revise for specific assessment visits or case scenarios is really beneficial and makes you feel like you are not on your own.

Annabel Wall

Annabel Wall BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Annabel graduated from Cardiff University in 2018, following which she completed her pre-registration year at Leicester Royal Infirmary. Now she splits her time between hospital and high street practice. Annabel was keen to be a STEP® mentor because she found STEP® invaluable throughout her pre-registration period. She found that the resources provided, such as the online courses and virtual classes, helped to tie together her knowledge and better prepared her to sit her assessments. Annabel is keen to give back and support others through what can be a stressful and demanding time.

Hatim Hassanali

Hatim Hassanali BSc (Hons) MCOptom

From enrolling onto the programme during second year of university to becoming a newly qualified optometrist, STEP® provided training and support in a wide range of formats to facilitate our learning along the way. Online material such as ‘Slit Lamp Techniques’ acted as guidance to master these skills during university clinics and the mock OSCE course became an invaluable experience in ensuring success for the final examination of the pre-registration period. Whilst the pre-registration period can feel daunting at times, the groups created as part of the programme enabled the sharing of individual experiences which helped in making us realise that this was a situation, we were all together in. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to become a STEP® mentor it was only natural to want to apply for this role. Having experienced first-hand the support given by all aspects of STEP®, by becoming a mentor it would give the opportunity to emulate this support to the next group of future optometrists as well as providing key skills to become a supervisor one day.

Jaspreet Johal

Jaspreet Johal BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Jaspreet was initially interested in Optometry as she wanted to make a direct impact on individual’s lives and improve their quality of life. During her pre-registration year, she found that being a part of STEP® was very helpful as she was able to ask questions and discuss scenarios with others who were also going through the same journey. Jaspreet strongly believes that being involved in STEP® greatly contributed to allowing her to pass her OSCEs on her first attempt. Following her desire to make an impact on people’s lives, she has since become a STEP® mentor herself to a group of thirteen mentees and is actively trying to encourage and help her mentees in a challenging, but highly rewarding year. Being a STEP® mentor is more than answering questions posed from mentees, it is being able to reassure and boost pre-reg’s confidence.

Jenny Cooper

Jenny Cooper BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Swedish born Jenny began her career in optics when first arriving in England in 2005. She started work in her local Opticians and graduated as a Dispensing Optician a few years later. After getting married and starting a family, she went on to study Optometry at Plymouth University, which is when she first came across STEP®. Jenny enjoyed the additional source of learning STEP® had to offer, and as well as the face-to-face opportunities, she highly valued the online resources, and the patient episodes often referred to, which offered real insights to everyday life as an Optometrist.

After practising as an Optometrist for a short while, Jenny once again craved something more. When the opportunity to become a STEP® mentor arose, it was the natural next step. Today, Jenny enjoys working in independent practice whilst mentoring her own group of STEP® students. She loves the support STEP® is able to give Optometry students in a variety of ways and says it was an invaluable part of her own University years and pre-registration. Jenny has also taken up further studies herself, and is hoping to qualify as an Independent Prescriber in 2021. Her motto is – never stop learning!

Jetal Patel

Jetal Patel BOptom MCOptom

Jetal qualified from Anglia Ruskin University in 2018. She carried out her pre-registration year with Specsavers and is currently still working for the multiple based in Central London.

Having recently qualified as an optometrist, Jetal can say that having a strong support system is key to a successful pre-registration year. There is a vast contrast between working life and university life, and being able to speak to someone who has not only been through that recently but understands the change is of great benefit to a pre-registration student. Her aim as a STEP® mentor is to help encourage the new optometrists in the way she was encouraged, and to be someone who they can come to with problems or when in need of reassurance. The programme is designed to help shape you as an optometrist and help improve upon key skills that are used in day to day life. She has really enjoyed taking part in the programme, and the webinars that were offered have enhanced her knowledge immensely.

Kamini Mistry

Kamini Mistry BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Following on from studying at Aston University, the pre-registration year in Specsavers was a learning curve. Continuing to work at the same practice means building rapport within the community. Gaining additional accreditations in enhanced optical services and post-operative cataract allows contribution to local shared care schemes.

The next “step” to what was an already exciting career was becoming a better qualified Optometrist, and the STEP® mentor programme offered an excellent platform to give back, whilst continuing personal development and ensuring that new students could benefit from the extra training and support.

Having taken part in the programme prior to being qualified, it is evident that the skills and mindset gained during the programme enables better patient care whilst performing the role of an Optometrist. The knowledge and experience are invaluable and the access to STEP® resources including virtual classes and support groups builds confidence in the ability to manage a range of patients, practice clinical skills and provide proficient communication.

Sharing professional experiences is a privilege and allows further growth within the role. By regularly connecting with peers, keeping up to date with the latest techniques and technologies and sharing ideas is an opportunity that is worthwhile.

Kayleigh Malpas

Kayleigh Malpas BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Kayleigh took part in STEP® 2018/2019 whilst working in an independent practice as a pre-registration optometrist. She found STEP® an invaluable source of information and support whilst undertaking the scheme for registration. Being the only pre-registration optometrist in the practice she particularly found the WhatsApp group useful to discuss concerns and scenarios with other pre-registration optometrists throughout the year. She also found the mock OSCE very helpful in preparing her for her final OSCEs. The newly qualified course helped Kayleigh build more confidence in her abilities and she was grateful that STEP® continued the support after she had completed the scheme for registration. Kayleigh wanted to become a STEP® mentor as she learnt a great deal through the program herself and would like to give this back to future pre-registration optometrists.

Naila Abid

Naila Abid BSc (Hons) MCOptom

A hospital pre-registration placement is quite different to that in private practice and as such resources provided by STEP® are invaluable. It is helpful having access to material which ties in with the SfR competencies; enabling the Stepper to use this at his/her own pace, to coincide with the competencies being covered at the time. The evening webinars organised by STEP® are very useful, as they allow asking of questions and learning from the questions asked by other Steppers. Sometimes the pre-registration year can feel very isolating but being amongst fellow Steppers within the Whatsapp group helps serve as a reminder that everyone is in the same boat! It’s also great having access to a Mentor who can both answer queries and create thought-provoking discussions.

Following the completion of the pre-registration year, the opportunity arises to support the next cohort of Steppers, as a STEP® Mentor. A STEP® Mentor can give back to STEP® by running their own Whatsapp group. The mentor works alongside the Steppers in this group and offers them support through their pre-registration journey.

Neha Bhayani

Neha Bhayani BSc (Hons) MCOptom

Neha studied at Aston University and completed her Pre Reg in a multiple high street practice, where she is still based post Pre-Reg. She remembers initially finding Pre Reg daunting as the examination process is completely different to previous years of education. Alongside this, being in a very different environment, alone in practice, as opposed to being surrounded by students in the same boat. STEP® and the faculty team really helped her through her journey, along with the online learning modules and webinars. STEP® further helped her understand the competencies and how to tackle them. Neha also found the visits to the Johnson & Johnson Institute really beneficial, as they were interactive and helped with the practical elements of Pre Reg, which further added to her confidence and knowledge. With gaining so much from STEP® throughout her Pre Reg, Neha wanted to be a Mentor to be able to help and support the upcoming cohort throughout their journey.

 

 

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