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Therapeutic Prescribing specialties

The Additional Supply specialty is open to optometrists only. Registrants with the Additional Supply specialty are qualified to write orders for, and supply in an emergency, a range of drugs in addition to those which can be ordered or supplied by a normal optometrist .

The Supplementary Prescribing specialty is open to optometrists only. Registrants with the Supplementary Prescribing specialty are qualified to manage a patient’s clinical condition and prescribe medicines according to a clinical management plan set up in conjunction with an independent prescriber, such as a GP or ophthalmologist or qualified optometrist.

The Independent Prescribing specialty is open to optometrists only. Qualified independent prescribers will take responsibility for the clinical assessment of a patient, establish a diagnosis and determine the clinical management required, including prescribing where necessary.

Am I eligible to train?
Optometrists must have been practising in the UK for two full years before they are eligible to start training for the therapeutic specialty qualifications.

What does the training involve?
Training for therapeutic specialties is built around nine competencies which are grouped into three categories:

  • The consultation
  • Prescribing effectively
  • Prescribing in context 

The detail within the competencies changes according to each specialty.

How is it taught?
The competencies for both specialties are delivered in various formats. Trainees must:

  • Pass taught theory modules;
  • Undertake a clinical placement under supervision of a designated ophthalmologist - optometrists must demonstrate necessary clinical skills before beginning this placement;
  • Maintain a portfolio of practice evidence to be assessed by the College of Optometrists. 

Where can I train?
The following courses are available in therapeutic specialties:

The following lists the minimum time which must be spent in clinical placement for Independent Prescribing:

  • For those who have already qualified Additional Supply: A minimum of 14 sessions of no less than 3 hours (7 days) 
  • For those who have already passed Additional Supply & Supplementary Prescribing Final Qualifying Exam: A minimum of 6 sessions of no less than 3 hours (3 days)
  • For those who have no previous prescribing qualifications: A minimum of 24 sessions of not less than 3 hours (12 days) 

The period of practice-based learning should ensure that the optometrist: 

  • Is competent in the assessment, diagnosis and management of the ophthalmic conditions for which the optometrist intends to prescribe

  • Is able to recognise sight-threatening conditions that should be referred

  • Is able to consult effectively with patients

  • Is able to monitor the response to treatment, to review both the working diagnosis and to modify treatment or refer/ consult/ seek guidance as appropriate

  • Makes clinical decisions and is aware of their own limitations based on, and with reference to, the needs of the patient.

  • Critically analyses and evaluates his or her ongoing performance in relation to prescribing practice

Clinical training should be structured to ensure that each trainee is exposed to sufficient numbers of patients presenting with the conditions that he or she will manage therapeutically. In addition, the optometrist should be exposed to a range of ophthalmic conditions so as to develop differential diagnostic skills. Each optometrist should maintain a Logbook of Practice Evidence to verify that learning outcomes have been achieved.  

On successful completion of the requisite period of clinical practice optometrists may apply to sit the Common Final Assessment in Specialist Qualifications.


Therapeutics Common Final Assessment

The IP Register was launched on 1 November 2009

  •  In order to Register as an Independent Prescribing specialist you will be asked to declare your intended area of practice e.g. glaucoma, primary care etc.

  • IP Specialist Registration must be renewed annually and you must be able to provide a record of your prescribing activity for each renewal. A copy of the suggested format of this record is enclosed.

You may download a copy of the IP Specialty Registration form from the Registration Forms section. There is also a version of the IP Log Book which is to be used to provide a record of your prescribing activity for each renewal.

IP Log book IP Log book

What happens after I complete my training?

After you have completed your additional training and qualified in your specialty area, you will need to be entered on the relevant therapeutic specialty register. To do this you will need to complete a registration process. Visit the registration section of this site for further information on registering your specialty. 

Will I have to obtain CET points?  

In order to maintain GOC IP Registration, all registrants will be required to earn Specialist Therapeutics CET points. This requirement began for Independent Prescribing at the start of the new cycle on 1 January 2010.

Where can I find out more?
More information on therapeutic qualifications is available from the College of Optometrists' website. 

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