VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED
WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON SUNDAY 5TH FEBRUARY 2017
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTED US
Finalist: Prabhjit Boparai
The committed optometrist works both in her own practice and the Wolverhampton Eye Infirmary, as well as chairing the Wolverhampton Local Optical Committee and South Staffs Optical Society
Why did you become an optometrist?
I’ve been fascinated by eyes since childhood. I worked with a dispensing optician during my A-levels and decided to pursue ophthalmic dispensing as a career, and proceeded to follow through with the contact lens qualification.
I then got married and had children. However, my husband, also an optometrist, saw my hunger for knowledge and encouraged me to go further and study optometry, so I joined university as a mature student. With my background in optics, I was sure that this is what I wanted to do.
What is the most rewarding thing about being an optometrist?
One of the things that makes my day is when I see a short-sighted patient’s face light up when they can see clearly for the first time. It’s also very rewarding when I’ve successfully diagnosed a patient’s condition and referred them for treatment. They are eternally grateful to you.
How do you go above and beyond the call of duty for your patients?
Once I see a patient they become my responsibility. There’s a lovely elderly lady with severe dry eyes. When I examine her eyes I can really feel her suffering. Not only do I give her the best service in my practice, I often visit her at home for follow-ups.
I liaise with her GP and the pharmacy to ensure she not only gets the correct medication she needs, but also make sure she is using it correctly by visiting her at home, as she often gets confused. I give my personal contact number and try to be available even out of hours.
I believe communication with your patients is so important. You can be the best clinician in town, but if you can’t explain what is happening to your patients, your knowledge goes to waste.
How do you promote eye health and raise awareness to the public?
To raise public awareness, I hold regular events either for National Eye Health Week or our annual fundraising open day. These are great opportunities to inform people about many eye conditions, from cataracts and glaucoma to flashes and floaters. I am always trying to raise awareness about the importance of regular eye health checks even if you can see fine.
Acting as an ambassador for optics, I often go into schools to talk to children and their parents on open days.
For this year’s fundraising event, I was inspired by a woman with a guide dog who had lost her sight to diabetic eye disease. I pledged to shave off my eyebrows if I raised over £1000.
I knew my eyebrows would grow back but her eyesight would not return. We raised over £1200 and so I lost my eyebrows in front of the local community, including the mayor and mayoress. The event was a huge success for charity and also raised awareness of many eye conditions that need regular screening.
What are your three tips to effectively communicate with patients?
- Always make sure you explain all the tests to your patients in a manner they understand. Give patients written and electronic material to take home
- Make sure you answer all their questions and address any concerns at the end of the eye examination so that they don’t leave the practice with any queries
- Offer them continuing support, not just on the day, but enable them to come back anytime with their questions. It’s about continuing that relationship.
How do you support your colleagues?
I always praise their hard work and show appreciation. I also take them along to new training events, and make sure they are involved in what is happening in the practice, and ask them for their ideas.
Regular meetings are important. Every Friday I take my staff to lunch – the idea is that we can talk freely in an informal manner without any pressure.
I’m also passionate about improving communication between primary and secondary care. As my role as chair of the Wolverhampton Local Optometric Committee, I organise clinics for optometrists to sit in with ophthalmologists at our local hospital, so they can get first-hand experience of the hospital eye service, which improves their clinical skills and referrals.
How does it feel to be nominated and shortlisted for this award?
I’m incredibly humbled and honoured to think someone thought I was capable enough to be nominated for this prestigious award.