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Females out-achieve males

A report from the College of Optometrists shares a range of findings from an analysis of its Scheme to Registration data

05 Mar 2018 by Emily McCormick

More than two-thirds of pre-registration optometrists who enrolled on training over a 12-month period were female, according to a new report published by the College of Optometrists.

Analysing data from trainees who enrolled on the Scheme for Registration between 1 June 2014 and 31 May 2015, the College revealed that 68.5% were female and 31.5% were male.

The report also found that females performed better than their male counterparts, with 11% more males than females defined as ‘struggling’ during the trainee period. This is a 4% rise on statistics reported in 2016, suggesting that “the attainment gap has widened between the genders for this cohort,” the College said.

The report, which is the second of its kind and follows on from a publication in 2016, covers the demographic and performance data of 593 pre-reg trainees.

Practical assessments

In terms of how trainees deal with the assessments that take place in practice throughout the pre-reg period, the College revealed that 37% of trainees in the cohort required no resits or additional visits at any stage of their training. This represents a 5% decrease on the previous year. 

If a trainee struggled, it occurred during a work-based assessment, the College found. While 82% of trainees passed Stage 2 by their second attempt, the number needing further additional resits increased to 17%. The College said that this demonstrated that Stage 2 is an area where trainees are beginning to struggle more.

Similarly, first-time pass rate for the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) fell, with new data reporting a 78% first-time pass rate, compared to 82% previously. “The introduction of new stations sampling more widely across the assessment framework may account for the slight decrease,” the College said.

Location, location

The data analysed reported that students tend to undertake their pre-reg training in the same region as their chosen university. This both corresponds with the previous report’s findings and with the information collected as part of the its Optical Workforce Survey, the College commented.

Data also showed that multiples continue to provide the vast majority of pre-reg placements, accounting for 85% of this cohort.

Speaking about the purpose of the report, director of education at the College, Jackie Martin, said: “Publishing this second report allows us to begin mapping patterns in performance for those on the Scheme for Registration. Although more in-depth statistical analysis is required to develop and understand patterns; we hope that this report will provide useful information for trainees, supervisors, universities and employers.” 

Reflecting on the findings, Ms Martin said it had identified Stage 2 as an increasing area of difficulty for trainees, which suggests that “trainees in this cohort struggled more with the synoptic, overarching nature of this complex assessment,” she said. 

Ms Martin concluded that overall the College is “satisfied that the Scheme for Registration is doing its job in terms of setting and maintaining the highest standards for the profession.”

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