Blog: A day in the life of an Orthoptic student

Guest blogger Anna shares her experience of studying Orthoptics at Sheffield, and why you may need to bring comfy shoes!

Anna Orthoptics

My name is Anna and I am a 19 year old Mancunian studying Orthoptics at the University of Sheffield. Orthoptics is a relatively small, unique course, and over the past year I have had my fair share of questions regarding my choice of degree; ‘what is orthoptics?’, ‘are you going to become an optician?’, or (more regularly than you would perhaps think) ‘is that the one with the bones?’. Let’s start this off by clarifying that Orthoptists are health care professionals who specialise in the diagnosis and management of ocular motility disorders and binocular single vision defects. They work in hospitals and community settings, prioritising the health of patients and making a real difference to the lives of those they treat, from new-borns to the elderly. I knew that I wanted to study something practical that I could use to help people, and I am really excited about my studies and future career in this field. 

Sheffield is an incredibly friendly, diverse city, and I love that there is always something going on that you can get stuck in to. Over the last semester I volunteered at the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind, watched a firework display at the Botanical Gardens, and even started going to Zumba classes (it’s harder than it looks!). The Sheffield Student Union is a hub of activity and a great place to access support whenever you may need it. Plus, there is a pick and mix station – need I say more? I have also been adjusting to living in student halls, which has featured significantly less dirty plates and noisy flatmates than I had originally feared. In fact, the student accommodation here in Sheffield is rather wonderful, and living with my flat mates has been one of the best parts of my university experiences so far. 

Studying Orthoptics appealed to me as I knew I wanted to work in a hospital and, having worked in an optician’s practice after finishing my A-Levels, I had an interest in ocular anatomy and vision. Orthoptic students at the University of Sheffield have access to all the equipment used in Orthoptic clinics, an excellent support network from the lectures/tutors, and you will probably end up spending a fair amount of time in the Medical School café, which is a stand out feature for me anyway. We go on three placements each year to hospitals throughout the UK and Ireland, and this allows you to put in to practise everything that you have learnt whilst at university. Orthoptic students also have the opportunity to join the ‘Orthoptic Society’, which is a social group run by students throughout the three years of the course. This is a wonderful way to meet peers in other year groups, who are always more than happy to give you advice and support. The Orthoptic Society also runs the annual ‘Eye Ball’, a formal event held around Christmas time for staff and students to look back on the past year’s achievements and to celebrate! 

The Eye Ball
Anna and fellow Orthoptic students at the annual Eye Ball

If you are interested in studying Orthoptics, my main piece of advice would be to contact your local Orthoptic department and organise some work experience. Not only will you see some really interesting cases, but this will give you more certainty as to whether or not this is the career for you. The University of Sheffield is, in my opinion, the perfect mix of being a prestigious university with a great reputation, as well as being a really fun place to live. A quick word of warning though before I finish off this blog post; the hills here are not for the faint hearted, so bring some comfy trainers if you’re going to be joining us next September!

Want to find out more? You can also follow Anna on a day in the life of an Orthoptic student in our latest video, and see what she gets up to in lectures and follow her to clinical skills training.

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