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Independent Prescribing

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.

What does the training involve?

This section outlines the training requirements for optometrists wishing to become qualified as independent prescribers.  The training has three components, a theoretical course at a GOC approved institution, a clinical placement and a Therapeutics Common Final Assessment through the College of Optometrists.

Am I eligible to train?
You must be registered as an optometrist to commence the theoretical component of your training to be an independent prescriber. You must also have completed a minimum of two years in practice before starting the clinical placement element of the training. You can discuss these requirements further with your training provider. 

Where can I train?

The following universities offer courses in Independent Prescribing:

Clinical Placement Requirements

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 not 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 not 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 based on and with reference to the needs of the patient
  • Is aware of their own limitations and makes clinical decisions based on the needs of the patient
  • Critically analyses and evaluates his or her ongoing performance in relation to prescribing practice
  • 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.

Clinical training is 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 will be exposed to a range of ophthalmic conditions so as to develop differential diagnostic skills. Each optometrist will maintain a Logbook of Practice Evidence to verify that learning outcomes have been achieved. 

Therapeutics Common Final Assessment

On successful completion of the requisite period of clinical practice optometrists may apply to sit the Common Final Assessment in Specialist Qualifications which on successful completion will allow you to register your specialty.

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 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. 

Where can I find out more? 

More information on therapeutic qualifications is available from the College of Optometrists' website.


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