Temporary changes to Optometry Handbook and Supervision policy extended

Given the ongoing uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have agreed to extend the temporary changes to our Optometry Handbook and Supervision policy for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years.

We have reviewed information we received as part of our Annual Monitoring and Review process, comments and evidence invited from sector bodies, and other feedback received from providers in order to consider whether an extension to the temporary changes was required.

We first introduced these temporary changes in August 2020 to protect patients, students and the public and enable clinical experience to be delivered in a safe and practical way in light of the limitations that the pandemic has put on clinical practice.

An update in relation to each of the temporary changes is provided below:

  • Stage 1 patient experience: Last year, we amended and further defined the minimum number of patient episodes that students must achieve to obtain an appropriate breadth of patient experience and we broadened the types of experience that can be counted towards Stage 1 - including observation with formal reflection. This temporary change has been extended for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years.
  • Certificate of Clinical Competency (GOC stage 1): For students who graduated in summer 2018, we granted an extension to the Stage 1 Certificate of Clinical Competence (which students receive upon successful completion of their undergraduate studies) to 31 December 2020. We continue to review whether this requirement can be removed in its entirety so that any decisions regarding the currency of learning will form part of a providers enrolment/admissions policy.
  • Stage 2 patient experience: In Summer 2020 we reduced the total number of GOC stage 2 patient episodes that students must achieve by 10% and removed the categorised patient episode numbers. The provider must instead ensure that the student achieves an appropriate breadth of experience and set and justify its level of any minimum experience in specific areas of practice. This temporary change has been extended for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years.
  • Supervision policy: We now permit non-GOC fully-qualified registrants to supervise students, if they meet our supervision criteria, are regulated, only supervise tasks that are within their professional scope of practice, and the education providers ensure that all other supervision requirements are met - including clarity about any role in patient episode or core competency 'sign off' that these supervisors may have. This temporary change has been extended for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years.

If you have any questions, please contact our Education team on education@optical.org.