Reject the introduction of apprenticeship degrees for optometry in the UK
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With recent changes in the way optometry is provided in the UK, moving from only a handful of universities a dozen and rising. Many in the profession feel the barrier to entry is being lowered year on year allowing for poorer quality candidates to enter the field. This devalues the profession lowering the public perception.
The next step in this demise of the profession is an apprenticeship scheme which will irreparably damage the public's perception of what it means to be an optometrist. The length and breadth of training completed by current optometry students going through three intellectually challenging years at university (four in Scotland) followed by a hands on pre-registration year of full time work familiarising oneself with the practical aspects of the job, building communication skills and knowledge. All while studying towards a comprehensive set of exams to cover all competencies of an optometrists' role. This mode of study ensures a well rounded health care professional, able to take on ever more of the strain of the NHS with further educational advancement such as professional certificates and independent prescribing along with shared care schemes.
With all these new responsibilities and expanding scope of the optometrist the public are starting to understand the value in having well trained optometrists to look after their sight and eye health. It would be tragic if this good work was reversed by an apprenticeship.
Other professions such as pharmacy have rightly defended their prestige and rejected similar proposals let's not be the first to fall.
It's time to stand-up for ourselves and ensure the job we love is still viable in decades to come. We need to lift up each other to see the profession as a whole flourish!
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