Case study

Specialist orthoptist — Alis Sejourne

Alis works in a large London hospital, a position she secured straight after graduation and here she's sharing some tips on how you can become an orthoptist

What did you study?

I studied Orthoptics BMedSci at University of Sheffield and graduated in 2021.

How did you get your job?

I applied for my job via NHS Jobs while I was in my third year of university. I went through an interview process and was lucky to be successful. I began working at King's College Hospital straight after graduation.

What's a typical working day like?

I typically have a morning and afternoon clinic where I assess, diagnose, and manage a variety of patients. This may be within specialist clinics such as paediatrics, neuro-ophthalmology, glaucoma day phasing, botulinum toxin, or adult ocular motility. I also have designated admin time to reply to emails and carry out continuous professional development.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Orthoptics is a very sociable job. I enjoy building relationships with patients and staff. I also love that orthoptics is a flexible, growing profession. It is an exciting time to be an orthoptist as there are a lot of new opportunities to upskill and progress through the multiple career pathways available.

What are the challenges?

The main challenges to working in a big busy London hospital is managing clinic lists as well as working alongside our accident and emergency rapid eye service. This means we may be needed to help with emergency cases. However, these patients are often very interesting and the most rewarding.

In what way is your degree relevant?

Orthoptics is a vocational degree. All you learn at an undergraduate level is applied and built on throughout your career. By the end of the degree, you have already completed around nine months of placement. This means you have had plenty of opportunities to network with potential employers, as well as have the confidence to work and see your own patients straight away after graduation.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My role has developed naturally. I am now able to manage and run clinics single-handedly and learn new skills within specialist clinics, including glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmology.

I also tutor and create tutorials for undergraduate orthoptic students who visit us on placement at the hospital. Due to my interest in promoting NHS careers, I am now on committees within the Trust to achieve this.

Every day I learn something new about eyes and healthcare which fascinates me. I wish to continue to learn and develop my abilities and take opportunities as they come to me. I aspire to work around education and management within the NHS, while retaining and building on my clinical skills.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Contact your local orthoptic department for work experience within the field.
  • Get in touch with student orthoptic ambassadors at universities. They are happy to answer any questions regarding university application and university life.
  • Take part in the three-week Orthoptic FutureLearn Course. It's completely free under the limited access plan and can help you to start your career by exploring all aspects of the profession - from the conditions an orthoptist investigates to the routes into the job and exciting career prospects. All four UK universities which offer orthoptic registration degrees have been involved in the making of this course. Completion will look great on a personal statement.

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