The University of Highlands and Islands is continuing to develop its new undergraduate programme in optometry in Inverness and Elgin and is looking to break new ground in blended learning with placements in community optical practices from year one.

Following a model that has worked successfully for GPs and other primary health professionals, optometry students will gain experience, as part of clinical teams in rural areas away from physical access to hospital services. They will be supported to develop greater confidence and autonomy in clinical decision-making, developing important skills for eye health in the community.

As one of the largest and most spectacular regions in the UK – extending from Bute to Unst – Highland and Islands is a large area that has to be innovative in health and social care solutions. The university aims to build a future optometric workforce to deliver community-based eye care across the region and beyond, transforming primary and secondary eye care services in the process.

Work is under way to review and contextualise existing curriculum, finalise syllabuses, road-test and enhance additional teaching materials and complete GOC approval in time for the first in-take of undergrads in autumn 2019.

This initiative links to FODO’s programme of professional modernisation and development, helping optometrists and opticians boost skills, expanding care outside hospitals and working closer with ophthalmology to meet national need.

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland are a fantastic place to live, work and study. Anyone interested should take a look at what’s happening at its website.