Moving forward

Draft concepts for an overhaul of optometric education were discussed at the latest General Optical Council meeting


Draft concepts and principles that will feed into the General Optical Council’s (GOC) Education Strategic Review were up for discussion at the regulator's Council meeting earlier this week (15 November, London).

Ideas that will be examined as part of the review include standards for education providers, learning outcomes, enhanced clinical experience for students, multi-disciplinary education as well as the duration of education and training.

Speaking at the meeting, Education Strategic Review project director, Claire Herbert, told councillors that the consultation on the draft concepts and principles would be “exploratory.”

“You’ll notice that these are very open questions. We continue to be in listening mode and are engaging with our stakeholders very carefully,” she highlighted.

“We really want to understand what the implications are in order for us to finesse and focus our ideas in more detail next year,” Ms Herbert added.

GOC consultations would include discussions with other healthcare regulators who have been through a similar process, Ms Herbert explained.

“We don’t necessarily need to re-invent the wheel,” she stressed.

Research commissioned by the GOC into education in other health professions has revealed some synergies with concepts from the Education Strategic Review, Ms Herbert explained.

Common themes include early clinical exposure and experience, multi-professional learning and a risk-based approach to quality assurance.

The GOC plans on consulting on the draft concepts from 4 December 2017 to 16 March 2018.

GOC councillor, David Parkins, emphasised the importance of engaging with optometry students and newly-qualified optometrists as part of the consultation process.

“We need to be talking to them and getting their comments. I think their experiences are particularly relevant,” he highlighted.

Ms Herbert explained that the GOC has planned research involving students and newly-qualified optometrists that would seek their views on the project.

In response to questions about the length of time being taken to conduct the review, GOC director of strategy, Alistair Bridge, explained that ensuring the review is based in evidence takes time.

“This review involved tackling some fundamental strategic questions,” he shared.

“There is a balance between making progress with the review and making sure that what we produce has people’s support,” Mr Bridge added.