View from ABDO: We must move to blended learning
Author: Clive Marchant FBDO
The GOC report on perceptions of UK optical training offers valuable findings which must be addressed in the GOC education review. The key message was that the majority of dispensing opticians were happy with the level of clinical training before qualification. In comparison only 40% of newly qualified optometrists were satisfied.
I believe the three-year blended learning education programme for dispensing opticians (DOs) is the key to satisfaction. The majority of student DOs undertake a three-year blended learning programme and work a minimum of 30 hours a week in practice, with a minority following a two-year full time course followed by a pre-registration year. In contrast, optometry students have limited contact with patients, confined to the final year for some.
We must move to a blended learning education programme for all, enabling students to improve clinical skills and experience with patients and eye examination techniques.
Encouragingly most practitioners felt prepared to adapt to emerging technology. Some criticised aspects of their training which they considered old fashioned and irrelevant.
Beyond qualification, employers cited an initial drop in confidence, avoidance of clinical decision making and a tendency to over refer highlighting the need for early years mentoring.
Commercial, business and retail knowledge and skills, legal aspects of the role and sector, paediatric optometry and the delivery of enhanced services were all cited as areas where practitioners were not sufficiently prepared upon qualification.
We hope the GOC will reform education, so our DOs and OOs of tomorrow are equipped and confident for future practice.