Key information, entry requirement and fees
Credit value: 40 masters level credits
Mode of delivery: Distance Learning
Course type: Professional Accreditation
Fees (2021): £2,300. The costs for the clinical placement, which is to be arranged by each trainee, can vary, depending on the fees, if any, imposed by the respective HES. There is also an examination fee for the Common Final Assessment, charged by the College of Optometrists.
Start date: October and March.
Application deadline: For courses starting in March, the deadline is 25 January. For courses starting in October, the deadline is 23 August.
Duration: Two periods of 4 months each
Time commitment: Although this will depend upon the individual, a typical student can expect to spend around 10 hours a week throughout the duration of the course, equivalent to 400 hours of study in total. The Clinical Placement section requires a minimum of 12 days in placement (24 sessions of not less than 3 hours).
Entry requirement: At present the Independent Prescriber 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 clinical placement is the candidate’s responsibility to organise. In line with GOC requirements, all applicants must provide an individual letter of support (usually from an ophthalmologist) regarding the placement for acceptance on to Aston’s Independent Prescribing course.
Key applicant information:
As part of the application process, you will be required to send in certified copies of your ID and Degree certificate. The clinical placement is the candidate’s responsibility to organise. In line with GOC requirements, all applicants must provide an individual letter of support (usually from an ophthalmologist) regarding the placement for acceptance on to Aston’s Independent Prescribing course.
We have a cap of 30 students per intake and therefore recommend applying early.
Course outline and what you will study
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.
This course consists of 3 elements, taken consecutively:
- Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics: this module covers topics including ocular immunology, pharmacology and ocular therapeutic drugs, frameworks of prescribing, prescribing safely and professionally.
- Prescribing for disorders of the eye: this module covers topics including evidence based practice and glaucoma in relation to independent prescribing. Upon successful completion of the second module’s exam, optometrists will be required to undertake a clinical skills practical assessment at Aston University. 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.
Both of the above modules can be taken independently as part of the Optometry Flexible Credit Accumulation framework award.
- Learning in practice: After successful completion of the two theory based modules and a practical assessment, you are required to undertake practical training in the form of a clinical placement. 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. To achieve Independent Prescriber status you 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).
Following successful completion of all three elements, you will be prepared to take the Therapeutics Common Final Assessment, set by the College of Optometrists. Further information about the exam and therapeutic prescribing can be found on the College of Optometrist’s website.
*Details provided are intended to give an overview of the proposed aims and content in modules, they are not a complete exhaustive and definitive description of module content.
Learning, teaching, assessment and staff
This course is delivered via distance learning. You will access learning materials for general study, revision and assessment via our virtual learning environment, Blackboard. This platform allows you to access a comprehensive range of study materials, scientific journals, e-journals, databases and much more. Most topics are delivered by PowerPoint lectures with speech. Other lectures are delivered in a text-based format. Assessment is by coursework submitted throughout the course.
Following completion of the two theoretical modules, you will undertake a period of practice-based training. It is your responsibility to arrange this clinical practice placement. Upon successful completion of all three elements, you will be prepared to take the Therapeutics Common Final Assessment, which must be organised independently.
Our courses are written and delivered by staff at the forefront of life and health sciences teaching and research. Many members of staff practise/have practised professionally. In the recent Teaching Excellence Framework assessment, Aston University was awarded Gold, the highest award possible. In addition, our courses are regularly reviewed by relevant professional experts.
Your future career prospects
Our courses offer you the opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills in order to develop your career. In addition, our ethos is to equip you to make a real difference in your field.
Following successful completion of all three elements, you will be prepared to take the Therapeutics Common Final Assessment (candidates must organise this independently).