For pre-registration optometrists and their supervisors

Optometrist at practice

In October 2020 we carried out surveys of pre-registration optometrists and their supervisors. Here are some of the findings:

Asked what the biggest barriers were to providing adequate support, the vast majority of supervisors mentioned “time”. Below are several quotes that are typical of the majority.

What supervisors said was their biggest barrier to providing adequate support

  • Time pressure and full clinical duties
  • Overload of work in a busy practice which can only be completed by a qualified optometrist. Especially trying to manage WECS appointments on top of a fully booked clinic. This prevents any spare time being available to discuss cases with pre regs
  • I have to provide additional training in my own time during lunch breaks and before/after work. I would only be able to take between one and three appointment slots out of the diary per week to provide any support and training/feedback. Testing times are unchanged regardless of having a pre-reg or not. This would result in me checking the pre-reg patient records/photos and rx between my own full clinic. This means no time for good quality feedback to be provided
  • Extremely busy clinics, minimal time given to supervisor and pre-registration optometrist for administrative tasks, training and discussion etc. Supervisor is expected to have full case load in addition to pre-registration supervision duties
  • No designated time to observe/check appointments. No flexibility in booking of clinics/appointments. No dedicated time to spend with pre-reg. Have to do over lunch or after clinic, over and above contracted hours

A minority (39%) of trainees felt that they got enough time with their supervisor.

Both groups reported that they had to "find" the time for supervision and support within the day, with over 20% reporting that they used their own time, during what should have been breaks, or after work. Well over 40% in each group found time in the day when neither were in clinics because of patient non-attendance or gaps in the clinic diary. Both pre-registration optometrists and their supervisors are at risk if something occurs to the detriment of a patient that the pre-reg sees. It is not acceptable for an optometrist to be asked to undertake a full clinic on top of supervising a pre-registration optometrist. As a minimum employers should provide the following to staff who are going to act as supervisors:

  • Protected time for observing the pre-registration optometrist
  • Protected time for meetings to give feedback and review progress
  • Training in supervision, to cover scheme requirements, what to look for, and feedback techniques

We can give advice to anyone who feels the quality of their care is at risk due to time or any other pressures: contact [email protected]