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Joint working

Interprofessional collaboration

Clinical scientist and optometrist at the Centre for Ocular Research and Education (CORE), Karen Walsh, tells OT  about how the research centre worked with its pharmaceutical colleagues at the University of Waterloo to deliver education to both professions in one place.

11 Sep 2019 by Andrew McClean

A need was identified to encourage enhanced interprofessional collaboration between optometrists and pharmacists. These professions often have the same patient presenting with an eye-related complication. When individuals from both professions were canvassed it became apparent that a lack of understanding currently exists on how best to advise the patient, particularly when they seek advice from the pharmacist for their ocular concerns.

The education project with the School of Pharmacy is a distance learning and continuing education offering. It’s designed for optometrists and pharmacists who are already in the community practising. You can get much more tailored and better patient care by getting optometrists and pharmacists to understand how each profession works and what they can do together.

“A need was identified to encourage enhanced interprofessional collaboration between optometrists and pharmacists”


Creating education materials was a collaborative process. There was a great deal of mutual respect around the room. As we talked among ourselves we uncovered all sorts of elements in the content that we wanted to write. We didn’t know how pharmacists were being asked to operate in their practices and, equally, pharmacists were unaware of the scope of practice that optometrists have.

Part of the continuing education accreditation process, as this was content for both professions, was to get community pharmacists and optometrists to review the content. There was a lot of learning around that table. I was the lead author of the first module on contact lenses and red eye and I had a pharmacy partner. The two of us worked together to write the content.

The resulting Enhancing Eye Care Through Interprofessional Collaboration programme provided three and a half hours of distance continuing education, accredited for both optometrists and pharmacists.

Image credit: Getty/skynesher

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