Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is offering a post-graduate ocular therapeutics course that provides the theoretical training for optometrists which contributes to them achieving independent prescribing (IP) status. The next module is due to start in March 2016.
The course is open to practitioners from across all parts of the UK and includes optometrists who work in hospital and academia.
Following successful completion of the course, a clinical placement and the Common Final Assessment in Therapeutics, administered by the College of Optometrists, optometrists can enter the General Optical Council’s therapeutic speciality register.
Once an independent prescriber, optometrists can prescribe medicines for ocular conditions within their area of competence. With prescription pads already available in some parts of the UK, IP qualification is said by GCU to offer fast and efficient access to treatment for patients, which is highly rated by them.
GCU’s course has adopted a modular structure to enable full-time optometrists the flexibility to complete the programme within their own timescale. It consists of three CET accredited, part-time modules, each lasting about 3.5 months long.
Every module starts with a two-day course at GCU with lectures on topics including conjunctivitis, blepharitis, uveitis, scleritis, keratitis, dry eye and glaucoma. There are also hands-on practical workshops, on gonioscopy, ocular first aid and optic disc assessment.
The course is followed by a distance-learning element composed of online lectures, discussion forums and custom-written therapeutic articles.
The fee for each module is £630, with funding from NHS Education for Scotland available for optometrists practising in Scotland who are contracted for general ophthalmic services.
GCU’s course is highly rated by its students, with over 95% satisfaction reported. More than 500 optometrists have enrolled on the course, with over 170 already IP qualified.
Former student, Lanarkshire-based optometrist, Dr Scott Mackie, said: “The IP course at GCU has fundamentally changed the way I practice by allowing me to monitor, treat and refer eye conditions that previously I would not have the skills or medication to manage.”