GOC backs education roadshows
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GOC backs education roadshows

Careers in optics websiteOptical bodies and high street opticians are working together to encourage more young people to choose optometry and optics as a career.

The Careers in Optics Working Group has piloted a roadshow which encourages teenagers to think about a career as a technician, dispensing optician, contact lens optician or optometrist.

The innovative fast-paced workshops are designed to shape perceptions about the profession, for students in Years 8-11. Content is mapped to KS3/4 PLTS Science curriculum requirements and was well received by schools throughout the pilot.

Local optometrists and dispensing opticians deliver the roadshows, where students learn about illusions, light and sight in a fun and supportive environment. The workshops include a specially commissioned 3D movie, designed to reinforce the link with optometry and optics. They aim to affect the way young people see the world around them.

Elaine Grisdale, Head of Professional Services at ABDO, said: “Amazingly a lot of students have never heard of dispensing opticians or optometrists, and those who have or have thought of a career in healthcare, haven’t thought about our sector seriously.

“The fact that we are on the high street means that people do not immediately think of us as a healthcare profession. Physiotherapy, medecine, dentistry, nursing and vetinary science are professions which are thought to be attractive to young people with a science bias. The Group also found that many of these professions can be researched easier than optics/optometry.

“Another reason for the lack of awarenesss or enthusiasm in schools could be the fact that only a small number of children take up their NHS entitlement and have eye examinations. Many children are not even exposed to vision screening at school. This is a problem that a parallel cross-profession working group is currently addressing.”

Twelve workshops were delivered in eight schools during the pilot. Participating schools had strong science and the trial attracted significant coverage in local, national and trade press. Following the workshops 77 per cent of students said they were now more aware of the importance of eye health and 55 per cent ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that they would recommend optometry and optics as a good career choice.

Elaine continued: “It has been a fabulous exerience to be part of this multidisciplinary initiative whch has produced an edgy, creative, fun and targetted programme which proved a great success in engaging teenagers.”

The Working Group includes members from ABDO , AOP, College of Optometrists, Optometry Wales, the Sight Care Group and the SMC who are active in the development of the roadshows, as well as key representatives from high street opticians from the multiple and independent sectors, and universities.

Professor David Thomson, Group Chair, talked about the next steps: “We are currently analysing the feedback from the pilot workshops and will use this to improve the experience and materials. The next stage is to recruit dispensing opticians and optometrists from around the country to act as ambassadors and deliver the workshops in local schools. We will provide training and all the resources required so this is a great opportunity for eye care professionals to engage with local schools and to help safeguard the future of our profession.”

Look out for information in e-bulletin, optical journals and professional body websites. For more information or to register your interest email newdimension@college-optometrists.org.


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