A degree apprenticeship in optometry is being developed in England, as a potential new route to registration. A pan-sector ‘trailblazer’ group, led by employers and including universities, is currently running a consultation on a draft Apprenticeship Standard which would form the basis of the new training route. The Standard aims to explain what an optometrist does and what knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to demonstrate.
How do apprenticeships in healthcare work?
As a result of Government policy, degree apprenticeships have been developed across different professions - funded in England through an ‘apprenticeship levy’ on larger employers. Apprenticeship programmes leading to degree qualifications are being implemented for several healthcare professions, including physician associates and bioinformatics scientists. They are also being developed for clinical associate psychologists and being explored for pharmacists.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is responsible for overseeing and approving apprenticeships, which are developed through an employer led trailblazer group. The General Optical Council will also have to approve the Apprenticeship Standard, and any new courses offered by education providers under it. Students will be eligible to apply for registration with the GOC as an optometrist if they successfully complete an End Point Assessment to demonstrate they meet the requirements set out in the Standard.
The AOP’s viewIn our response to the most recent GOC consultation on its education strategic review, the AOP said that degree apprenticeships could be attractive to employers, and could also make it easier for students from diverse backgrounds to enter the profession. However, we noted that apprenticeships would give employers much more direct influence over students’ day-to-day learning. We also said that the GOC would need to ensure that any new programme gave students the right grounding in academic knowledge and thinking skills, in order to practise safely in a range of clinical settings.
We understand that our members’ views about the creation of an optometry apprenticeship may vary. We want to ensure that apprenticeships will meet the needs of all our members – for instance, that they can be accessed by practices of all sizes, that they don’t create undue risks or pressures in the profession, and that the GOC ensures consistency for optometrists entering the register through different routes.
Your views matter
We’d like to hear your views on our community forum to help inform our response to the consultation on the draft apprenticeship standard for optometrists.