Clinical observation days pave the way for next generation of optometrists

Optometry students at Glasgow Caledonian University have taken part in a series of clinical observation days at one of the UK’s leading eye surgery clinics, as part of a new programme giving student optometrists experience of modern day surgical practice.

The new clinical observation days are intended to give students insight into the surgical vision correction profession and the broad range of optometry practice undertaken in the UK.  The observation days were hosted by Optical Express, the UK’s only complete eye care provider, in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University. These learning days seek to provide students with practical experience of modern optometry practice, including refractive and cataract surgery.

During the observation day at Optical Express’s clinic in Glasgow, the students had the chance to hear from clinicians undertaking a variety of multi-disciplinary roles within community eye care. This included speaking to the Specialist Refractive Optometrists, Ophthalmic Surgeons, and Surgery Teams in the state-of-the-art Optical Express facilities. The students also discussed the importance of sustainability in eye care and agreed that clinicians have a role in explaining to patients the environmental impact of vision correction options.

Through learning about modern surgeries and demonstrations of the latest technology and equipment, students are able to benefit from the advancements and cutting-edge solutions changing the face of optometry. Students have welcomed the addition of the practical experience to their studies and the chance to gain insight into the range of optometry careers. Optical Express has already began expanding the observation programme to other optometry schools in universities across the UK.

Aisha (21), an optometry student at GCU who took part in the observation day, said, “I particularly enjoyed speaking with the specialists in the refractive surgery team and seeing the latest equipment and technology in this area. I hadn’t considered refractive surgery previously as a career option, but the observation day has really opened up new avenues to me. I’m also passionate about the environment, so I was really motivated by the discussion about sustainability in the eye care sector and the role we can all play in protecting the planet for future generations.”

Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express said: “We believe it is essential that students get a chance to experience clinical practice first-hand and hear directly from professionals currently practising. Given the positive response of the students and professionals to the observation days, we are eager to expand the initiative so that students across the country can benefit.”

Observation days are an opportunity to engage student optometrists with the practical aspects of the profession as well as give insight into future career opportunities. Optical Express’s partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University shows how providers and optometry schools across the country can work together to close the gap between optometry education and optometrists’ clinical experience. This will assist to make courses more relevant to practice in today’s eye care sector.

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