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Professional Development through Independent Prescribing

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The role that optometrists play in primary eye care is changing due to the increasing need to support the requirements of community shared-care and minor eye conditions programmes.

In a pioneering move, last year Optical Express made the commitment that every one of its optometrists would be given the opportunity to gain an Independent Prescribing (IP) qualification through its partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University – fully funded by the company.

Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director, explained, “In our view, it’s imperative that the eye care sector adapts in order to help offer the skills and qualifications required by eye care professionals to support the ongoing shift to care in the community.

“Optical Express already had a strong relationship with Glasgow Caledonian University before we began discussions around creating an exclusive course for our optometrists in 2017. It launched in early 2018.

“We’re delighted that all 21 optometrists from our first cohort have now completed the university course. This includes a number who have already become fully IP qualified, having completed their clinical placement and the Final Common Assessment, both of which are overseen by the College of Optometrists.

“A further 15 optometrists in our second cohort have completed the Glasgow Caledonian University course and have commenced their clinical placements, while Cohort 3 has completed two out of the three modules. They are well on their way to gaining their higher university qualification.

“As the industry re-shapes, we believe that this strategy will ensure that our optometrists are well-placed for what it may become. This kind of upskilling helps future-proof our services.”

Professor Gunter Loffler of Glasgow Caledonian University said, “We were delighted when Optical Express approached us. Our partnership has seen us work together to create a tailored course which ensures the learning outcomes that the GOC has accredited, but in an adapted way that suits Optical Express’ requirements.  It’s very clear that Stephen and the rest of the Optical Express team share our belief that IP will play a central role in the future direction of optometry.”

Every Optical Express optometrist has the opportunity to take the IP qualification. As well as providing the funding for each optometrist to complete it, the business also covers the cost of travel and accommodation when a practitioner attends the university, as well as access to a placement and the cost of the College of Optometrists’ Common Final Examination for those who complete the course. Supplemental in-house training sessions accompany each stage in the process.

Mr Hannan added, “We are able to support our optometrists regarding their clinical placement, thanks to our network of in-house ophthalmic surgeons.

“It’s our immediate aim to have an IP-qualified optometrist in every one of our clinics, and then ultimately to have every one of our optometrists qualify. We’re well on the way to achieving that.”

If you are interested in joining Optical Express and gaining access to our industry leading training, then contact our Recruitment team who’ll be happy to let you know what opportunities we have across the UK and what other development opportunities we can offer you. You can contact us at careers@opticalexpress.com or 01236 795146.