Short Course - IP1 Core Knowledge for Independent Prescribing

About the course

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The path to becoming an independent prescribing qualified optometrist is a 3-step process:

  1. Attend a course approved by the General Optical Council.
  2. Undertake a clinical placement under the supervision of a consultant ophthalmologist and complete a logbook.
  3. Sit the College of Optometrists Common Final Assessment

This postgraduate short course is offered as a part-time, flexible learning course and is step 1 in the path to become an independent prescribing optometrist. The course comprises of two modules which cover the theoretical elements of independent prescribing in accordance with the guidelines set out by the General Optical Council. It will provide you with the skills, knowledge, understanding and practical skills required for the independent prescriber clinical placement and final assessment.

The University places considerable emphasis on the development of professional attitude and on patient-focused practice throughout the course. You will be taught by a range of professionals from different specialists from optometrists and pharmacists to nurse practitioners and ophthalmologists.

This short course teaches and assesses students against the General Optical Council’s independent prescribing competencies and it aims to:

  • Enable you to learn about the causes, signs and symptoms of conditions they will encounter as an independent prescribing optometrist;
  • Provide lectures on human and ocular immunology, supplemented with pharmacology and clinical management plans, to enable students to understand the management and follow up of the conditions they will be managing once they register as an independent prescriber;
  • Encourage you to research evidence-based practice in their studies and to be self-reflective in order to develop required clinical skills
  • Ensure you have the necessary skills to start their clinical placement through a final practical assessment.

The independent prescribing course at the University of Hertfordshire comprises of two 30 credit postgraduate (Level 7) modules. This is the first module and will cover the following topics:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • History taking
  • Methods of ocular examination
  • Infection control
  • Drug legislation and ethical prescribing
  • Cardiovascular, endocrine and respiratory systems
  • Misuse of medicines and antimicrobial resistance

You are able to progress through the course at your own rate. It would normally be expected that you would complete the course in 12-18 months. Students must complete module 1 before commencing module 2. Both modules must be taken and passed before sitting a final OSCE assessment.

Entry requirements...

The entry requirements for the course are set by the General Optical Council. You will need to have:

  • A General Optical Council recognised undergraduate degree in Optometry.
  • A current registration with the General Optical Council.
  • Evidence of current experience. This should be in the area you intend to practice. It can be a supporting letter from an ophthalmologist, professional services manager or other person within the organisation you work for.
  • Evidence of CET activity in your chosen area.
  • Any relevant higher education qualification.
  • Written confirmation of the type of clinical practice in the intended area.
  • Identified a suitable ophthalmologist mentor

Please note, that to commence the clinical placement you must have been registered with the General Optical Council for at least two years.

Course fees

Self-funding £1950 for both modules.

Course experts

Colin Davidson
Programme Lead

Teaching methods

Learning hours 300 per module with combination of online lecture material, self-directed learning and webinar interaction. Each lecture is followed by a series of formative MCQs. Each module is followed by a summative assessment which must be passed to progress. The assessment comprises MCQs, short answer questions and VRICs. Module 2 assessment also comprises a practical OSCE.

OSCE assessment and clinical placement

There is a practical OSCE assessment at the end of module 2 which you must pass before commencing your clinical placement to ensure you have developed all of the necessary clinical skills to complete the clinical placement. 

The clinical placement consists of 24 three-hour sessions with an ophthalmologist. It is your responsibility to secure a placement. You are required to identify your ophthalmologist mentor to the University prior to starting the course. The clinical placement must commence no later than two years after the completion of the theoretical modules. To commence the clinical placement following module 2:

  1. You must have been registered with the General Optical Council for at least two years.
  2. And have been recently assessed in clinical competence (final OSCE)

The University of Hertfordshire currently holds provisional approval from the GOC to provide the independent prescribing course. Whilst under provisional approval students recruited on to the programme are not guaranteed entry to the GOC Register and may be required to undertake additional assessments through an alternative GOC approved education provider in the event that any aspect of the programme when delivered does not satisfy the GOC standards.

The next course will commence on 18 January 2021. For more information contact Programme Lead, Colin Davidson.