What’s involved in the Independent Prescribing course?

We offer every one of our optometrists the opportunity to gain their Independent Prescribing (IP) qualification and fully support those who go on to do so.

If you’ve ever considered taking the steps to gain your own IP qualification, you may be wondering what’s really involved. We spoke to some of our optometrists who have recently started their course about what it’s like to balance their career with studying.

What does the course involve?

The IP course is primarily distance learning, with the optometrist required to attend a series of practical and theoretical days at Glasgow Caledonian University. Made up of three modules, at the end of each the optometrist must pass an examination.

Upon completion of the university course, the optometrists then move on to undertake a clinical placement under the guidance of an ophthalmologist who’s listed on the GMC Specialist Register in Ophthalmology. These placements can take place in part or as a whole at an Optical Express treatment centre. Further to the placement, a College of Optometrists Examination is the final stage in the process, with the optometrist then obtaining their qualification in IP.

What you’ll gain from the IP course

Noelle, who is based in our Glasgow St Vincent Street clinic, explains how the course will help her career and the community that Optical Express serves. “I felt that being an IP optometrist would allow me to better support my patients, enabling me to offer them an enhanced level of service. Having now completed the course, being an IP optometrist has given me more confidence in my ability to be able to manage a wide range of conditions for the patient.”

Striking a balance between, work, study and home life

Claire from our Meadowhall clinic says “I’ve just started the course and my expectations are that it will be difficult but rewarding. I’m looking forward to learning new things – I just hope that I can still study like I used to be able to!”

Juneid splits his time between our Bolton and Preston clinics and knew that the course would be a challenge. “I have a young family and I knew that it would place huge demands on my time. Although it won’t be easy, it’s an investment as I believe that IP will become increasingly important in the future.”

Optometry is changing

“With the increasing pressure and workload on the NHS, I think optometrists are going to need to be able to deal with and treat more conditions in the community in the future. I think that this is the direction that optometry is heading and that at some point, every optometrist will be IP-qualified. Therefore, it’s safer to do it now rather than later,” Noelle says.

Claire said: “I believe that becoming IP qualified will help me in my job immensely. It’ll give me the in-depth knowledge to understand conditions I see regularly, and it’ll allow me to treat these patients confidently without always having to rely on surgeons or other IP-qualified colleagues. Knowledge is key in treatment and managing our patient’s appropriately.”

Opportunities that just aren’t available in day to day optometry

Our optometrists currently studying for their qualification have no regrets. “I’ve learned an incredible amount, and I’m looking forward to what else the course has to offer me.” Amardeep, an Optical Express Optometry Development Manager said.

“It’s been extremely interesting so far, allowing me to expand my knowledge on a wide range of ocular conditions and the medicines that will be available for me to prescribe once qualified. It’s also meant that I’ve met colleagues from up and down the country and developed a support network where we all help one another,” said Specialist Refractive Optometrist Charlotte.

“We did lacrimal syringing which is something you simply don’t do in normal everyday practice. It was really good to actually get that hands on experience” – Claire commented.

Scott, an Optometrist at our Aberdeen clinic, echoes Charlotte’s sentiment with regards to support. “I have met people I’d spoken to on the phone or who I’d heard of, but never met. We’ll be able to get to know each other better and give each other support. We’re already planning to set up a WhatsApp group” he smiles.

We support our optometrists all the way

As part of our commitment to investing in our Optometrists’ training and professional development, all course fees and travel and accommodation costs are fully funded by Optical Express. Through this investment, Optical Express stays at the forefront of the eye care industry ensuring our patients receive a world-class standard of patient care.

You can search our current vacancies, contact recruitment@opticalexpress.com or call 01236 795146 if you’re interested in joining the team at Optical Express.

Optometry Careers

If you’re an optometrist and interested in career opportunities with us, simply fill in the form below and we’ll be in touch with you to arrange an informal discussion.