So, I finally have my GOC number and the little box on the register says “Optometrist” rather than “Student Optometrist”, which, strangely, I find more satisfying than the OSCE results!

I always felt a little bit behind with the paperwork so I thought I’d write a quick post on what to do and when.  As I’m in Scotland, it will have, of course, a Scottish bias.

The first thing is your application for inclusion on the NHS Ophthalmic List.  Ideally, you should get a pack with the forms around March-April time.  Mine appeared in store one day, so I actually have no idea how you request them.  Hopefully your supervisor knows. You should fill this out and return it as soon as you can as this is the longest step in the process – aim to send yours away by the start of May.

In Scotland, we have to have to submit our PVG from Disclosure Scotland to say that we have no criminal record and we can work with children and vulnerable adults.  If you are working for a multiple, you’ve probably done something like this at the beginning of your pre-reg and it’s probably been filed in the HR department of the multiple, never to be seen again.  They don’t accept copies so if you don’t physically have your PVG (or English/Welsh/Irish equivalent) then you’ll need to apply for a new one.

So, there are two Lists, one for optoms working in practice and the other for locums.  In a fit of optimism, I filled out the former and I’m having to switch to the latter.  As part of the application, you need the home addresses of two witnesses to say you are clinically competent.  They will be contacted to provide a reference.  As you can imagine, the to-ing and fro-ing of paperwork is what takes the time.  Especially if you have lackadaisical supervisors.

Okay, so after you’ve sent that off, the next bit of paperwork is your OSCE application.  After passing Stage 2, you’ll be sent a link to the form you have to complete and return to the College to book your place in the OSCEs.  For this, you’ll need a passport photo (and, if I recall correctly, you need this signed on the back by your supervisor).

Keep your passport photos handy because you’ll need one for your GOC application when you pass your OSCEs.

Okay, so (fingers crossed) all goes well in your OSCEs.  You’ll find out on the day the results are released if you have passed.  A day or two later, you’ll get a pack from the College with a breakdown of your OSCE results and a form to complete to be included in the GOC register.

First, before you complete this form, you need insurance.  This is fine if you are working for a practice, they’ll probably have their own insurance.  If you are locuming or if you are working at a small independent, you might need to get your own insurance.

I went with the AOP.  They pro rata (as do the GOC) and have a newly qualified discount.  They also allow you to pay by monthly direct debit, which is great if you are currently unemployed as it spreads the cost a bit.  Anyway, the form you need is on the AOP website.  You can also call them up and speak to their membership department, who are lovely.

Okay, so after your insurance paperwork comes through, you can then fill out your GOC form.  You’ll need a passport photo signed ON THE FRONT by someone in good standing in the community who has known you for 2 years or more.  I have a friend who is a policeman so I was sorted.  As the fees are pro rata, you will probably need to phone and find out how much the GOC fees are going to be.  They will also refund you the £25 that you paid them in March if you get your application processed before August.

Now, in a bit of a twist, you send your GOC form to the College who then pass it on to the GOC.  In the pack that the College send out, there will be a prepaid envelope for the form.

The College also has discounted membership for NQs (it’s around £30), which you have to pay if you want to go to the graduation-type ceremony in London.  Your £30 will also get you stickers and leaflets galore for your practice so it’s well worth it.

Now, you’ll be pleased to hear that I received my GOC number yesterday but I’m still battling through the NHS registration.  One of my clinical references still needs to be submitted and I need to fill in and return the Application for Inclusion of the Second Part of the Ophthalmic List, even though it looks pretty much identical to the first part.  I also have just discovered that I need a “certificate of training” from NHS Education Scotland (if you were qualified in Scotland, you can apply for one of these through the Optometry Scotland website, by using a web form).  NES also need a scan/copy of your letter from the College congratulating you on passing your OSCEs.  You also have to e-mail the College to give your permission for NES to contact them to confirm you’ve passed.

Anyway, I hope this little guide to the paperwork is helpful.  It’s quite a frustrating process as it has so many parts, each taking time.