Liverpool Orthoptics Personal Statement Requirements
What attracts me to the course is my strong interest in the workings of the eye and seeing first-hand the limitations and importance of our vision, as genetically impaired vision runs throughout my family. I found out I was short sighted at a young age, but at that age could never imagine the endless challenges that can exist within the eye. My eyesight weakening has only strengthened my passion to pursue a career in Orthoptics.
I have a special affinity for Biology and Chemistry and was drawn to a career relating to these subjects. I attended a lecture about Optometry at the University of Manchester, where we examined the structure and health of the eye. It included a case study concerning a girl who had a cataract; after researching this I discovered it involved deterioration in vision due to clouding of the lens inside the eye. I knew I wanted to seek a career in Optometry, Orthoptics, or Ophthalmology. After intensive research into these professions, I came to the conclusion that Orthoptics was best suited for me. Optometrists are trained to determine the type of vision problems and prescribe eyewear, whilst Orthoptists assess, diagnose and manage patients with eye muscle disorders. I believe my approachable nature is suited to a career where the majority of patients are children, whom I would cherish the opportunity to work with. My preferred work surroundings have consistently involved interacting with others in a social environment, such as volunteering at a primary school which included helping the teacher plan her lessons and assisting students. This has increased my confidence in speaking to all age groups, and has refined my ability to cooperate as part of a team.
Studying Maths has furthered my ability in analysing problems and solving them systematically. Biology and Chemistry have allowed me to understand the intricate nature of the human body at a molecular level. Studying the human body and how drugs can affect it was enjoyable. For example we looked at botulinum toxin (BOTOX) in Chemistry, and problems concerning the eye such as ptosis in Biology, which can be caused by BOTOX. Learning French has been valuable in allowing me to communicate to a wider range of people, and has improved my interpersonal skills. During my work experience shadowing an orthodontist, I gained an insight into his manner of communicating to patients in order to make them feel relaxed. I managed times for patients and made appointments, and attained organisational skills which I can apply in a university environment. Working part time as an assistant at an electronics shop where I regularly tend to the customers, divide and efficiently sort out the products, has improved my ability to work with others, listen effectively and work independently. These characteristics are applicable as I will be working closely with Ophthalmologists and other medical practitioners. I have arranged work experience shadowing an Orthoptist which I hope will give me greater knowledge and prepare me for this career.
During my school career I have participated in the tennis club, chess club, computer programming, Amnesty International and karate. They have given me beneficial skills which can be utilized as an Orthoptist, such as hand-eye coordination to assure that I perform procedures correctly. Learning to judge all possible outcomes will ensure that I can expect the worst and respond and adapt quickly to various situations. Attending karate lessons for 3 years makes me appreciate how essential it is to have self-discipline. Lastly I have taken a leading role in Amnesty international sessions for 5 years, enabling me to be a more compassionate person; I now have a better understanding of the importance of protecting people's rights and treating everyone equally. Overall I am positive that I have the attributes of an attentive, empathetic and hardworking individual as shown by my experiences and would thrive in a demanding career like Orthoptics.
Universities Applied to:
University of Liverpool (Orthoptics) - Rejection. Needed higher grade in Biology
University of Sheffield (Orthoptics) - Offer (BBB, must obtain B grade in Biology) - Firm
Glasgow Caledonian University (Orthoptics) - Offer (BBB)
University of Salford (Biochemistry) - Rejection. Course required A2 level Chemistry
Liverpool John Moores Univeristy (Biochemistry) - Offer (260 UCAS points, must obtain C grade in Biology) - Insurance
Note, at AS-level the grades I achieved were B in Maths, C in French and D in Biology. University of Liverpool rejected me due to the fact that their course requires purely Biology at A level, which I got a D in at AS. While the University of Sheffield requires one of: Maths, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics. The reason I also applied for Biochemistry was because only those 3 universities do Orthoptics in the UK.
Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018
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For the past 3 years, there has been a thread on here for all the potential orthoptics students applying for uni, the first year, being my own. Seeing as orthoptics is such a small profession, I felt (at the time) that it was difficult to find other people doing the course, and to talk about when we were receiving offers, what to expect when we got there and that sort of thing.
So I've started this years one, so hopefully it will come up in google (I'm very sure it will) and that you can ask questions when you apply, or are thinking of applying.
I'm going to link to the previous years threads, so you can read through them.
I'm a Liverpool student going into my third year. If you have any Sheffield-specific questions, post them up anyway, I know there is at least one past Sheffield orthoptist on here.
I also want to say that if I sound patronising by telling you something you already know or putting it in laymens terms, I don't intend to be, but try to understand that people may be looking on here without knowing very much about the profession and I'm trying to to give them enough basic information for them to try and form an opinion, and then go and have a little look around on the internet themselves.
Before some of you ask, I'm just going to put a few commonly asked questions
Q. What is Orthoptics?
A. Orthoptics is (to put it very broadly) the diagnosis and management of ocular motility disorders, and other visual problems. This may sound a bit scary, but we see people with squints (a turn in the eye), amblyopia (a lazy eye), diplopia (double vision), people who have poor ability to use the eyes together as a pair. Sometimes this could be children, who have a turn in the eye, or it could be an adult who has had some trauma, and as a result may have double vision.
We see lots of children, but we see plenty of adults too. Some hospitals only see adults, and some only children.
Q. I've stumbled across Orthoptics when looking at applying for Optometry, are they the same/similar thing?
A. No, Orthoptics and Optom aren't the same thing. Orthoptics is specialising in ocular motility and binocular function (who your eyes move and work together as a pair), whereas Optom is specialising in refraction, optics, and prescription of glasses, and checking fundus and media for abnormalities and referring on and that sort of thing (I'm not an optom, I'm just trying to give a brief description). They are very different professions, and it's important that you understand the difference, because if you do end up doing Orthoptics if you chose Optom as your first choice but didn't get it, then for your own sanity and piece of mind it's important to know what you're getting yourself into. I'm just trying to say do your research into each profession first
Q. Is there a difference between Sheffield and Liverpool? The entry requirements are higher for Sheffield so that must mean it's better? Does that mean it'll effect me getting a job???
A. No. Think about it now, there are only two universities doing the degree, do you really think in such a small profession such as orthoptics, it really matters which university you have gone to? Entry requirements depend on how many applicants they get, and if they get more, they can increase the requirements. Both unis are moderated by the NHS and are made to study exactly the same things at both universities.
Orthoptics is commonly in clearing, and I think (not definately sure) that both Liverpool and Sheffield where in it this year.
When I've spoke to lecturers at uni, they've said that one of the reasons Liverpool has lower entry grades, is that because they accepted people with a lot lower grades, through clearing, and found that the students could cope with the workload just as much.
Also, some people say students are biased from where they're from. It honestly doesn't matter to me where you go, especially seeing as I'll have left by then. I'll try and give everyone all the answers they can, because at the end of the day, there are a lot of decisions made when applying to uni, and you need to make them all yourself.
Q. I’ve not done A levels, I’ve studied _____________ Can I still do Orthoptics?
A. I honestly do not know, go on the UCAS website and look at the entry requirements, and if you’re still unsure, email the admissions tutors asking.
As an alternative to A levels, you can do a foundation year (again, I don’t know if this is the same for Sheffield) to health sciences, which is a year at a college and providing you have completed the year and passed it, you will then be accepted onto Orthoptics.
Here is a link to the foundation degree at Liverpool:
Q. On the universities websites, it says I should go and have a day observing in an Orthoptic department, is this really necessary?
A. Yes. Many people may have never been seen by an Orthoptist, and even if they have, weren't old enough to remember it. It's important to go and see the job first hand, to know if this is what you really want to do. The unis ask for it, because yes, they want to know you're committed and you've done your research. But you should actually want to go and do it yourself, to see what you're going to be doing. If you're wondering how to go about this, sending an email to your local department explaining you're applying and you would like to observe for a day, should be fine. I would advise trying to go somewhere that sees a mixture of children and adults, as this will give you the best well rounded view of the job.
Q. I read that you go on placement at university? Is this true? How often do you go on placement? Where do you go?
A. Yes, you do go on placement throughout your three years at uni. They are essential to your learning, because unlike Optometry, you do not have a pre reg year, you finish university and go straight into a job. So placement is important to know that you are clinically capable and competent. It is also crucial, because you spend so much time in university learning about all of the conditions, but chances are, you won’t see someone with these conditions, until you're on placement, and I feel (personally) that it really helps to set in stone your theory and link it in with your clinical.
When you go on placement is different at each university (and I don't know the ins and outs of Sheffields), but I do know that altogether, both universities have the same amount of placement overall.
In first year at Liverpool, you go for 1 week observational placement in January.
2 weeks around easter time.
And 2, 1 month placements, in summer.
Second year is 2 weeks at easter
and 2, 1 month placements at summer.
Third year, is 2, 1 month placements between September and Christmas (back to back, we only have one month in uni) between September and Christmas
and then 1 month around easter.
Please bear in mind, that this is for Liverpool not Sheffield. And I don't know the placement times for Sheffield, this is so you have a rough idea.
Regarding where placement is, it can literally be anywhere in the country. As I’ve said, Orthoptics is a very small profession, so understandably departments can only tend to take students, if there is no one on mat leave, or no one on sick, that sort of thing. So far I’ve been to Birmingham, Huntingdon (Near Cambridge), Salisbury (Near Bath), and closer to home, Wigan and Warrington. If you desperately want to go on placement near home, the university (again, Liverpool here, unsure about Sheff) will try and get you a placement near home if they can.
Travel and accommodation costs are reimbursed by the NHS.
Q. Will I need to buy books?
A. It is advised that you should, yes. There are books in the library, but not enough to go around a whole year, and if everyone didn't buy them, then there wouldn't be enough for everyone.
Suggested books are:
Diagnosis and Management of Ocular Motility Disorders, by Ansons and Davis
Clinical Anatomy of the Eye, by Snell and Lemp
Clinical Orthoptics, by Rowe
Dictionary of Opthalmology (I can't remember who by)
Yes, they are expensive, but when you start university, (I know at Liverpool) the Blackwells does a deal on the books for you. I don't know if Sheffield recommend any different/addtional books.
Also, if you want to have a read, and try and get a feel for what orthoptics is about, and see what these books are like, I know the first three are available on google book preview, and I think some are available on amazon preview too.
Some useful websites:
BIOS - The British and Irish Orthoptic Society
These are who we need to register with to study, go on placement, and when we practice. They are our governing body if you will, who decide on clinical standards and that sort of thing.
There explains the degree courses, which I suspect you should have already looked at. If you look on the left hand side, it also has links to information on grants and bursaries.
Liverpool University Orthoptics
Sheffield University Orthoptics
Both universities have some information on there about Orthoptics, and the course itself. And I’m pretty sure that both the admissions tutors emails are on there too, should you need to ask any questions specific to you.
NHS Student Grants
Should you decide you do want to do Orthoptics, then you will be able to apply for a student bursary. This is a means tested bursary, meaning it depends on your household income. There is a bursary calculator on there, so you can calculate approximately how much you could get. And all the forms are on there too, and just some general information, it's well worth a read.
NHS Orthoptist Careers
This explains the role of an Orthoptist in the NHS, and what we do, where we work, how much we get paid and a bit about applying too
Phew! That was alot of typing! Anyway, hopefully this will help you all, and give you a good basis to start having a look and deciding if you really do want to do Orthoptics. Feel free to post any questions, or PM me if you would rather.
If you do post on here, please use the quote button if you are replying to someone. (unless you're replying to this post, in which case, just press reply because it is a huge post ). And I know I've talked alot about Liverpool here, but I don't want to say the same for Sheffield if it's different and give you the wrong information.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your applications!