Being the boss: Bradford Optometry graduate, Dan Varcoe 2013, profiled by Association of Optometrists
After graduating from the University of Bradford in 2013, Dan Varcoe headed to Jersey for what he labels a "unique" pre-reg period. Based on an island with a population estimated at less than 100,000, he completed his pre-reg year at independent practice Alan Duchemin Opticians. While Dan was pleased that he made the move and experienced something new, he admitted that because there is no NHS in Jersey, he found that patients generally "looked after themselves better," adding: "I didn't experience the pathology that I may have done in a different environment."
Returning to the UK as a fully-qualified optometrist in September 2014, Mr Varcoe joined an independent practice in the south west. However, unsure of his next move, it was a call to a recruitment agency that set the wheels in motion for the next step in his career, where he is currently practice manager and resident optometrist for Boots Opticians in Falmouth, Cornwall.
“I contacted a recruitment agency about an advert for a job which seemed interesting, but it turned out not to be for me,” Mr Varcoe explained. “During that call, the recruiter spoke about an opportunity at Boots Opticians. From there I met with Boots’ then clinical governance optometrist for an informal chat about what opportunities there might be, and eventually I was offered a role as practice manager and resident optometrist at a brand new store they were looking to open.”
Having opened the practice doors in March, Mr Varcoe is now managing a team of five and thoroughly enjoying the challenges that the role brings. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a new team and understanding how to make the best of those peoples’ abilities in order to provide patients with the best service possible.”
Having previously worked as a dispensing optician before venturing back into education to become as an optometrist, Mr Varcoe also spent more than a year as a store manager with Vision Express – an experience that stood him in good stead for where he is today.
“It’s really beneficial that in my previous optical roles I have covered all bases of the profession and, for example, know what my optical consultants are going through because I have been there and done that,” the optometrist explained.
However, Mr Varcoe admits that it has not all been plain sailing when undertaking the dual role of practice manager and optometrist. “At times it’s quite hard to find the right balance when you are stuck in a testing room and you don’t know what’s happening on the shop floor. But I have a great team, and I’ve learnt to make the most of my time when I’m not testing to ensure that things are getting done and the right people are completing the right tasks,” he said.
With the practice blossoming under Mr Varcoe’s reins, he is now focusing on furthering his clinical education as he studies towards the College of Optometrists’ Professional Certificate in Medical Retina at Cardiff University, while simultaneously training to be a practical examiner for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians.