AOP Council meeting

The future of optometric training in focus at AOP Council

Representatives from the College of Optometrists provided an update on Clinical Learning in Practice placements at the March meeting

A wooden gavel decorated with the AOP logo of a blue circle rests on a table

The AOP Council received an update on undergraduate clinical placements from the College of Optometrists at its latest meeting (AOP offices, London, 6 March).

Head of curriculum development at the College of Optometrists, Martyn Jones, outlined the process of developing new Clinical Learning in Practice (CLiP) placements and how supervision would work under the scheme.

Jones explained that the placements have come about as a result of the General Optical Council’s Education Strategic Review.

He highlighted that becoming registered as an optometrist is no longer a two-stage process, involving the completion of a Bachelor’s degree and the Scheme for Registration.

Jones shared that there is now an integrated route to registration, with the CLiP placement forming part of a Master’s degree.

As a result of these changes, universities are now the providers of CLiP placements and optometry students have involvement with the College of Optometrists earlier on in their optometric education.

Outlining the timeline for the implementation of CLiP placements, Jones shared that the aim was to have placement management live on an online portal by October 2024.

Student applications for placements would then be submitted by February 2025. CLiP placements would then be undertaken from July 2026.

Jones highlighted that in the past, students would leave university and independently be responsible for sourcing a pre-registration placement.

Now the College of Optometrists will facilitate placements on behalf of the university, he said.

Jones added that the students would still select which placements were their preference, but the College of Optometrists would assist with the structure of the application process.

He shared that students will apply for available placements on the CLiP portal at the same time.

If they are not successful in the first round of applications, Jones shared that there will be a second and third round process.

Jones outlined the consultation process that had led to the development of CLiP placements.

He shared that the College of Optometrists had worked with universities, the Optometry Schools Council, employer groups, and professional bodies.

Turning to common questions that are raised about placements, Jones shared that there was some concern about whether there would be a sufficient number of placements.

He highlighted that the College of Optometrists is working with employer groups to address this issue.

“We are trying to get as many people on board as possible,” Jones said.

Turning to the student experience, Jones shared that the College of Optometrists would set out clear expectations about what would be covered within CLiP placements – covering issues such as how much time a student would have with a supervisor.

He added that people will be able to utilise a quality assurance mechanism if there are aspects of their placement that they are unhappy with.

“It’s something we are talking about and trying to get right from the beginning of the scheme,” he said.

Turning to concerns around supervision and the responsibilities on employers, Jones highlighted that the College of Optometrists has published a CLiP Employer Handbook.

This includes a section on arrangements for supervision, such as requirements for taking on a supervisory role, the number of students per supervisor and the time commitment involved.

Council members had a number of questions around the detail of CLiP delivery, such as the new contractual arrangements for supervisors. These queries have been collated and are now being addressed by the College of Optometrists.

The AOP intends to continue to engage with the College of Optometrists on the development of CLiP placements, and will communicate with members on this issue.