With students in Oakwood considering their options after receiving their exam results, a Specsavers in the town is appealing to youngsters to expand their options and consider a rewarding career in optics.
Pratish Bhundia, ophthalmic director at Specsavers in Oakwood, is hoping that sharing his own story will inspire others to follow in his footsteps and consider optometry as a profession. With several entry routes in, including the opportunity to earn while you learn, Pratish thinks the field is often overlooked due to a lack of knowledge around the options available.
That’s why he’s become an ambassador for ‘School Stars’, an initiative designed to promote optometry and help youngsters lay out a clear career path and is using his experience of starting in school as an example.
A word from the ophthalmic director
‘I started my career in optometry with a week of work experience at a Specsavers store 29 years ago,’ explained Pratish. ‘Like many young people, I didn’t really know what my options were or what I wanted to do while I was at school, so getting a taste of something was key. I enjoyed it so much that I went on to apply and got a weekend job as a lab technician at the store.’
From there, Pratish worked his way up through the ranks at the nearby Swadlincote and Ashby-de-la-Zouch stores, before the opportunity opened to become a store director in 2005.
‘Once you become part of the Specsavers family, there is a real emphasis on professional and personal development to enable you to achieve your career goals,’ continued Pratish. ‘There are several routes into optometry – Specsavers have an excellent apprenticeship programme which allows you to become qualified while you earn, with the guidance of an experienced mentor.
‘For those further up the ladder, there is also a development programme called Pathway for those who show leadership potential and have aspirations of running their own store.’
Pratish had the opportunity for further study, gaining a Masters Degree in Advanced Contact Lens Fitting, as well as further specialist training in minor eye conditions, pre-op cataract assessments and glaucoma. He is also an examiner for Cardiff University’s ophthalmic assessments and on the Specsavers Professional Leadership Council.
A dream come true
For Pratish, his dream of having his own store came true in 2016, with the opening of the Oakwood Specsavers alongside fellow directors, Raj Gohil and Uan Gohil.
‘Opening the Oakwood store has been a fantastic journey,’ said Pratish. ‘So much of it is being able to put customers at the centre of everything you do, so it’s key to have an interest in customer service and a real desire to help people.
‘Having my own store is something I never dreamed of while still at school, but it’s something that many youngsters have the potential to achieve with the right guidance. I want to encourage anyone who is either having trouble deciding on their options or who has an interest in optometry but needs some guidance on the route in, to come into store and have a chat. I’m always happy to help answer any questions and give advice!’