So, if you’ve followed me here from my pre-reg blog, you’ll know that I have a new job.  I’m working for a different company, in a different town.

It’s a 45 minute drive and, at first, I baulked at the thought of travelling that far each day.  Two weeks in and I’m actually enjoying it.  On the way to work, I head through the city, out into the countryside.  I get to see the mist rising from the fields in the morning.  I feel like I’m escaping from Glasgow. On the way back, I head through those fields then into the suburbs.  The city stretches in front of me and beyond, I see the mountains.  It’s very pretty, especially in the evening light.

The practice has four test rooms but, until recently, they only used three of the four.  There’s another NQ optom there (who, strangely enough, was a pre-reg in the same company as me, in the same region, so we know each other) as well as a handful of more experienced optoms.  In another weird coincidence, on my first day there, I knew the locum because I worked with him during my pre-reg.  Optics is such a small world.

Anyway, the area I’m working in is quite poor. I’m used to this, having worked in the East end of Glasgow, but, in my new practice, the demographics are skewed more towards the over 60s.  While it was unusual for me to see a 70+ year old in my old practice, in the new one I see several each day. As a consequence, I’ve seen a lot of interesting pathology in a very short space of time.

My first few days were spent settling in.  That involved learning the computer system, finding out where everything is kept and adapting to the many quirks of the practice.

The record cards are computer based and follow a different pattern from my routine.  I have had to adapt my history and symptoms to suit what’s on the screen at that moment in time rather than my previous (logical) way of doing it.  The good thing about using the computer is that, if someone has no problems, it’s very easy to whizz through the admin parts of the test, allowing me to spend more time on the actual test itself.  Conversely, if someone has a lot of problems, I’m forced to type it all out on a keyboard that requires a lot more force to produce the letter E than any other letter and has a space bar permanently tilted up at one side by a 15 degree angle.

It’s also a bit of a faff to see the results from previous tests (except Rx and Hx & Sx).

My first patient there was a walk-in.  She had asthenopia and felt her Rx had changed.  During history and symptoms, she mentioned that she’d been in to HES a couple of years ago for something.  She wasn’t sure what but they’d put drops in her eyes then sent her home.  This was it, by the way, no other information given.  She had previously been tested by the opticians up the road and they had referred her.  She’d just wandered in that day for an eye test because we were closer than the other opticians.  Anyway, she had spectacular optic disc drusen and associated visual field loss in both eyes.  She didn’t drive, thank God.

My new practice doesn’t automatically do fields, pressures and fundus photos for everyone so I requested these at the end of the test.  In retrospect, I should’ve warned the Optical Assistant not to worry if they were abnormal because, about ten minutes later, she returned, ashen faced, to ask me to look at the fields and photos.  I assured her that it was fine.

The atmosphere in my new workplace is very different from the practice where I did my pre-reg.  While I miss my old colleagues and, especially, my work-wife (for those of you who are scratching your head at that, it’s a Grey’s Anatomy reference*),  I’ve been made very welcome by everyone in my new store.  I’ve been stumbling along, learning bits and pieces and making mistakes, but I’ve been supported every step of the way.  As a result, the last two weeks have been much less stressful than anticipated.

* Your work-wife (or work-husband) is the person you can depend on to help you out, who is there to provide emotional support as well as share eye rolls when things go wrong.  My previous work-wife was an Optical Consultant who started work around the same time as me (so we bonded over both being new and being a bit dirty minded).

I’m also enjoying the variety of patients that I’m seeing.  Well, except from the 5 year old who didn’t know the alphabet and waited until I was doing ophthalmoscopy to unleash a ridiculously loud and smelly fart (while beaming at me).  After he left, I ran out of the test room, whacking the air-con up to high before taking refuge on the shop floor.  So it’s not all glamorous.