Independent Prescribing for Optometrists

Independent Prescribing for Optometrists

To become an independent prescribing optometrist, there is a three-step process:

  1. A period of University based training, which can be done via the Postgraduate Ocular Therapeutics Course at Glasgow Caledonian University.
  2. Undertake a clinical placement. The clinical placement can only be started after successful completion of the University based training. The clinical placement is run by the College of Optometrists and entails completing a clinical practice placement, usually under the mentorship of an ophthalmologist, and logbook. The GOC requires that students must start the clinical placement within two years of completing a specialist therapeutics University course and students must have a minimum of two years in practice following registration as an optometrist before starting the clinical placement.  
  3. Final examination. This is run by the College of Optometrists. It is run three times a year at various venues across the UK. Optometrists must undertake the final examination within two years of completing the clinical placement.

For further information about steps two and three, visit the College’s website. The rest of this page contains information regarding how to become an Independent Prescribing Optometrist through the Postgraduate Ocular Therapeutics Course at Glasgow Caledonian University.

 

Postgraduate Ocular Therapeutics Course at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)

The University Based Training at GCU includes three modules of part-time distance learning. Each module starts with a module weekend that includes face-to-face lectures and practical workshops (CET points included) at GCU. This is followed by a period of distance learning during which students are provided with additional reading material including a collection of therapeutic articles provided online. There is written coursework consisting of case reports that are submitted during each module and each module concludes with students completing a written examination at GCU. 

Module 1: Ocular Therapeutics

This module includes the pharmacology of ocular therapeutic drugs as well as the clinical features, drug used and management options for anterior eye disease.

Module 2: Practical and Theoretical Prescribing

This module covers the pharmacology of ocular therapeutic drugs in the management of anterior eye disease and glaucoma. The module includes the concepts of evidence-based practice within the framework of clinical governance.

Module 3: Independent Prescribing

This module introduces students to a wide range of systemic conditions and their pharmaceutical management. Students will obtain an understanding of interactions between systemic medications and ocular structures as well as an understanding of potential side effects of ocular drugs on other organs. The module introduces legal and ethical aspects of an independent prescriber and local and national policies impacting on prescribing practice.

Application and start date

The course to become an Independent Prescribing Optometrist runs from March of one year until January of the following year. Module 1 weekend takes place in March of each year and there is a written examination that takes place in June. Module 2 weekend takes place in June and the written exam is in September. Module 3 weekend is in September and the exam in January of the following year.

For more information, or to apply, contact:

Morag Whitefield (CPD Administrator)

Department of Vision Sciences

T: +44 (0) 141 273 1806

E: prescribingoptom@gcu.ac.uk

 

 

Entry requirements

Applicants to become an Independent Prescribing Optometrist via the Postgraduate Ocular Therapeutics Course at GCU are normally required to hold an Honours degree in Optometry and GOC registration. For non EU applicants, an equivalent national qualification would be considered.

Before entering the third module, Optometrists must supply evidence that they have up-to-date knowledge in the diagnosis and management of the eye conditions for which they train to prescribe. Evidence of prior practical experience in the diagnosis and management of eye conditions entails providing evidence of one of the following: showing evidence of working within Scottish GOS for an average of one day per week over the previous two years; a letter of support from an ophthalmologist whom the optometrist works alongside; undergoing a short set of placements under the supervision of an ophthalmologist; providing a portfolio of clinical case records; working under the PEARS/MECS scheme or equivalent.

Fees and funding

Each module of the University based training costs £650.  For optometrists practising in Scotland, there may be an opportunity to apply for funding from NHS Education for Scotland (NES) for these modules.  

There are additional costs for the clinical placement and final examination. The costs for the clinical placement, which is arranged by each trainee, can vary. The fees, if any, are imposed by the respective hospital eye service.  For information about the examination fee for the Common Final Assessment, which is charged by the College, please see the College's website.

What you will study

The University based training to become an Independent Prescribing Optometrist consists of three modules and each theoretical module entails approximately 200 hours of notional effort, worth 20 credits at post-graduate level.  Optometrists will however possess varying base-line experience, which will affect the absolute amount of training required to meet the stated learning outcomes.

Each module starts with a module weekend that includes face-to-face lectures and practical workshops (CET points included) at GCU. This is followed by a period of distance learning during which students are provided with additional reading material including a collection of therapeutic articles provided online. There is written coursework consisting of case reports that are submitted during each module and each module concludes with students completing a written examination at GCU. 

Module 1 weekend takes place in March of each year and the written examination is in June. Module 2 weekend takes place in June and the exam is in September. Module 3 weekend is in September and the exam is in January of the following year.

 

Details of assessment methods

When undertaking the University based training at GCU, Optometrists are required to pass coursework and a theoretical exam for each of the 3 modules to demonstrate that they have acquired the necessary understanding of the learning outcomes.  The written coursework consists of case reports that are submitted during each module and each module concludes with students completing a written examination at GCU. 

In addition to this, to become an Independent Prescribing Optometrist, at the conclusion of the clinical placement, each trainee sits a Therapeutics Common Final Assessment (TCFA) run by the College of Optometrists.  Full details of the TCFA can be downloaded from the College of Optometrists website. Following completion of the TCFA the successful candidate will be awarded prescribing status and be allowed to register on the specialist GOC list.