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Virtual clinics set to be enabled for meeting IP logbook requirements

The GOC has agreed to a “more flexible” approach to meeting logbook requirements in independent prescriber training, a decision expected to help optometrists complete their training

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Pexels/ Anna Shvets

The General Optical Council (GOC) has agreed to proposals allowing for virtual clinics to be included in workplace session requirements for independent prescriber training.

The GOC agreed to a proposal set out by the College of Optometrists to provide a “more flexible approach” for meeting logbook requirements, by enabling a combination of face-to-face and virtual sessions until further notice.

Trainees must complete a minimum of 24 three-hour sessions in the hospital eye service, or specialist general practice, but these can now be divided into a minimum of 11 three-hour face-to-face sessions (45%), and a maximum of 13 three-hour sessions in remote or virtual clinics (55%).

The College added that all remote or virtual sessions must generate evidence of activities related to the GOC-specified learning outcomes and will need to be signed off by a designated ophthalmologist, approved by the College.

Describing the need for the change, the College shared that COVID-19 social distancing requirements, “have led to serious restrictions on direct clinical observation,” adding that: “This has made it challenging for optometrists training to become independent prescribers to fulfil the hospital clinic sessions required for logbook completion.”

By increasing flexibility in this way, the College said that this will “increase the accessibility of hospital clinical training provision by using technology that has become commonplace during the pandemic, and will help to increase the numbers of optometrists able to complete their training to offer prescribing services.”

Responding to the news, Ian Cameron, independent prescribing optometrist and managing director of Cameron Optometry, where all of the optometrists are IP-qualified, told OT: “Anything that increases access to IP training is very welcome.”

For many busy practitioners, Cameron explained, “the difficulty of securing a clinical placement is off-putting, so it’s great to see the learnings we’ve all gained about virtual care throughout 2020 being adapted so quickly into IP training.”

He added that the balance felt “right,” suggesting: “We can’t expect people to only train for IP virtually as nothing beats the in-person examination for building confidence, but it is good that a chunk of the training can be now done remotely which will surely lower barriers to people signing up for IP which is to the benefit of future of the profession.”

To share your views on the changes, join the conversation on OT’s recent blog post: Easing the bottleneck for IP placements.