Local optometry students, Shona McComb and Sally McConnell, have joined Specsavers in Lisburn as summer placement students and each are undertaking an in depth 6 week session as part of their three year Optometry degree at Ulster University Coleraine.

Shona from Hillsborough and Sally who lives in Ballinderry, have already completed two years at university and are among 550 optometry students from across the UK learning the ropes of optometry practice ahead of their final year at university. Following graduation both girls will undertake a pre-registration year based with an optician before being fully qualified.

In depth support

Natalie Latham, store director at Specsavers in Bow Street said both she and ophthalmic director Jill Campbell were delighted to support the undergraduate study programme.

‘Our programme is structured to provide students with a comprehensive insight into optometry practice and includes a workbook and USB stick which provides a huge amount of information enabling students to keep detailed notes of what they have learned which they can refer to throughout the rest of their studies.

‘Our summer placement schemes is like an extended interview on both sides – we get to know the student and the student gets familiar with us as a team and to experience the Specsavers culture and our commitment to development. As a store we are also well supported by the Specsavers Graduate Team.’

Invaluable experience

Sally who is a former pupil of Friends School Lisburn, said the placement was providing excellent and invaluable experience.

‘I was really impressed by the Specsavers placement and how it works. Everyone in the store is so committed to my development and I’m encouraged to get involved whenever there is an interesting case. I’m also getting great experience on the shop floor and have carried out several dispenses under supervision.’


This is the fifth year of the Specsavers summer placement scheme and Louise Iredale, Head of Graduate Recruitment and Development says, ‘The scheme has an excellent reputation amongst university students. From the feedback we get, it’s not just that it is well-structured, it’s also because of the personal nature of the relationship between the student and the store team. Students tell us that they feel they are treated as individuals – and this makes a real difference to them.

‘Selected students attend a two hour development session at their university before they start and we focus on team development and communication skills to help students make the best possible use of the placement and make a good start to their career in optometry as a whole.

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