A distance-learning course jointly run by Aston University and The University of Manchester.
Recent legislation has extended independent prescribing rights to optometrists, subject to the satisfactory completion of a General Optical Council (GOC) accredited training course. The restriction to the range of medicines that can be used and conditions that can be treated for IP optometrists is by reference to their competence:
‘Optometrist Independent Prescribers should be able to prescribe any licensed medicine for ocular conditions, affecting the eye and adnexa, within the recognised area of expertise and competence of the optometrist.’
The likely areas, in which optometrists are expected to work as Independent Prescribers, are Primary Eye Care and / or Glaucoma
Who is the course for?
At present the IP course is open to GOC registered applicants who:
- Have been registered for at least 2 years before commencing their clinical placement.
- Have up-to-date knowledge and experience in their intended area of practice. This could be relevant experience obtained in the hospital eye service, at a specialist eyecare practice or in a shared care scheme. After completing the theoretical training, optometrists are required to undertake a clinical placement under the supervision of an ophthalmologist and pass a final examination set by the College of Optometrists.
The University of Manchester and Aston University are offering a joint distance learning course in Independent Prescribing for qualified optometrists. The course consists of:
University based training in Independent Prescribing
This consists of two modules delivered by distance learning using our e-learning environment, Blackboard. Each module is made up of around ten online lectures assessed by unseen online tests and coursework.
The first module is entitled ‘Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
’ and covers topics including ocular immunology, pharmacology and ocular therapeutic drugs, frameworks of prescribing, prescribing safely and professionally.
The second module, taken after completion of the first module, is entitled ‘Prescribing for disorders of the eye
’ and covers topics including evidence based practice and glaucoma in relation to independent prescribing.
A period of Learning in Practice
After successful completion of the two theory based modules and a practical assessment, optometrists are required to undertake practical training in the form of a clinical placement in conjunction with an Independent Prescriber (e.g. an ophthalmologist in a hospital eye department). To achieve Independent Prescriber status the optometrist must gain at least 12 days of clinical training.
For those who are already registered as Additional Supply or Supplementary Prescribers, the placement period required is 7 days or 3 days respectively.
Optometrists must pass the Therapeutics Common Final Assessment
This is set by the College of Optometrists. Further information about the exam and therapeutic prescribing can be found on the College of Optometrist’s website
Each module consists of around ten ‘lectures’ delivered by distance learning via the Blackboard platform. Most topics are delivered by Powerpoint lectures with speech. Other lectures are delivered in a text-based format.
The first module covers aspects of ocular therapeutics, including the pharmacology and use of ocular therapeutic drugs.
The syllabus for the second module encompasses prescribing for ocular disease. Upon successful completion of the second module’s exam, optometrists will be required to undertake a clinical skills practical assessment at either Aston University or at the University of Manchester. The practical element will involve demonstration of slit lamp skills, contact tonometry and slit lamp binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy along with some objective structured clinical exam type questions.
Following completion of the two theoretical modules, trainees undertake a period of practice-based training. The aim of this component of the training is to develop competency in the practice of prescribing and to facilitate the integration of prescribing theory and practice with the conditions that the trainee will subsequently manage. This training will typically take place in the Hospital Eye Service under the supervision of a designated ‘mentor’ ophthalmologist. It is the responsibility of the trainee to arrange the clinical practice placement.
For IP the Clinical Placement comprises a minimum of 12 days (24 sessions of not less than 3 hours.)
Facilities & equipment
All our distance learning students have access to our library, with its extensive collection of electronic resources. The virtual learning environment can also be accessed electronically, 24 hours a day, both on and off campus.