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Newly qualified optometrists want more clinical training before qualifying

25 Jun 2018

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Most newly qualified optical professionals think they didn’t get enough clinical experience during the academic parts of their training, according to new General Optical Council (GOC) research.  

60 per cent of newly qualified optometrists felt that the amount of clinical experience they received during their degree course was insufficient. Some explained that their clinical experience during academic study was limited and often did not reflect real-life practice or typical patients. However, only 26 per cent of newly qualified dispensing opticians felt as though the clinical experience received during their studies was insufficient. Most had continued to work whilst studying and were able to apply their learning in a practical way.

The findings are taken from the GOC’s research, independently conducted by Enventure Research, into views and perceptions of newly qualified optical practitioners and optical employers across the UK, as part of its Education Strategic Review.

Gareth Hadley, Chair of the GOC, said: “We already know from our recent Concepts and Principles public consultation that most stakeholders want to see more enhanced clinical experience for student optometrists and dispensing opticians. 

“We now learn that newly qualified registrants, and particularly optometrists, recognise that they would have benefitted from more clinical experience during their education both to support patient care and their development as optical professionals.

“We cannot ignore the breadth of support for earlier clinical experience for students in order to improve patient care and safety. I echo my previous call to action urging education providers, employers and professional associations to come together to ensure this is realised.”

The research also highlighted that 58 per cent of newly qualified optical practitioners were either unsure or did not agree that their education and training had adequately equipped them to work in a hospital setting. Some attributed this lack of confidence to the insufficient experience, education and training they received in secondary care settings during their studies. 

Gareth Hadley said, “High street optometry is becoming more clinical which presents a real opportunity for optical practitioners to deliver new healthcare services locally and more quickly to patients, as well as to alleviate pressures from patient demand on hospital eye services. 

“We know from our widespread engagement with the sector that registrants are keen to play a role in providing enhanced optical services on the high street, but we also understand that optical practitioners may need additional training and support to be able to work across both primary care and hospital settings.

“We are keen to work alongside stakeholders across the optical sector to address these practical challenges and ensure that optical students are receiving the education and training necessary to prepare them for their future roles.”

The full research is available on the GOC website at



For further information please contact:

GOC Communications Team

General Optical Council

t: 020 5580 3898 (option 3)




1. The GOC’s Education Strategic Review is considering how eye health and vision services may change in the future to inform the development of new UK education and training requirements for optometrists and dispensing opticians. To find out more about the Education Strategic Review please visit


About the General Optical Council:

The GOC is the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, conduct and performance amongst opticians. The Council currently registers around 29,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.


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