Become a supervisor

What is a supervisor and what are their responsibilities?

A supervisor is responsible for a trainee during their time in the Scheme for Registration and your duties include: 

  • being accountable for every patient your trainee sees - so you need to ensure that your trainee has adequate supervision and that you are on the premises and in a position to intervene at all times
  • ensuring that the wider practice team are aware of both your supervisory requirements and the needs and responsibilities of the trainee - this includes selecting those patients who see the trainee in the early stages when the trainee may need longer examination times.
  • signing off any outstanding university (GOC Core Stage 1) competencies
  • providing the trainee access to a fully equipped consulting room for at least 20 hours a week.

You should refer to the GOC Standards of practice on supervision and any relevant infection control guidance documents to help support you with fulfilling your role as a supervisor. 

Supervision is a rewarding role. It means you’re contributing to the development of the next generation of the profession and guiding them to become the most professional optometrist they can be. By helping others develop it also evolves your own knowledge base and mentoring skills.  

Who can become a supervisor?

To be a supervisor, you: 

For full eligibility requirements, consult the Terms and Conditions for supervision on the Scheme for Registration. 

You may feel like you need to know everything to be a successful supervisor. This isn’t the case; no optometrist knows everything and there isn’t enough time to teach your trainee everything.  

Successful supervision is about guiding and developing skills within your trainee that will allow them to recognise and work within their level of competence, to reflect on and action any areas that need development. This ultimately leads to a professional optometrist who is then safe enough to be able to work without the need for supervision. 

Chris Evans MCOptom DipTp(IP)

Director, Gwynns

“You’ll be able to use your knowledge more effectively and pass it on to the future workforce, benefiting the profession. It’s not only rewarding but also helps you stay on top of your skills, which ultimately benefits our patients.”

What skills and qualities make you an effective supervisor? 

A good supervisor: 

  • has effective people skills and can communicate well with both trainees and patients
  • is empathetic towards their trainee and encourages them to learn and develop their skills in practice
  • is able to coach their trainee to help them unlock their potential and maximise their own performance
  • is able to help a trainee to learn, rather than directly teach them
  • is someone who can impart their knowledge and experience to others.

You can practise and develop a range of useful skills during your time as a supervisor. We do not expect you to have all the expertise in place on day one. 

Chris Evans MCOptom DipTp(IP)

Director, Gwynns

“Being patient, understanding and flexible. Having the higher qualifications [in low vision and glaucoma and IP] helped me; it allowed me to show my pre-regs a whole varied learning experience because I see a more varied patient load. For myself, I am learning the best way to present information when someone does something that isn’t right so that the student is not discouraged.”

Angharad Bowie MCOptom Prof Cert Glaucoma

“You have to be patient with pre-reg trainees. Practice is completely different to a textbook. Be kind to them. Be willing to put time and effort into being a supervisor. Your supervision will mould their career and help them make future professional decisions.”

What benefits do you get from being a supervisor? 

  • Maintain and update your own clinical knowledge and skill-sets 
  • Develop your training and coaching skills
  • Get job satisfaction from seeing your trainee develop 
  • Improve employability and professional status by developing your management skills
  • Open up different career pathways.

Start your supervision training

Complete this training course to begin your supervision journey.

Further guidance and training

The College has created a Supervisor Competency Framework to support you in meeting the Standards of Practice set of by the GOC. It will help you to fulfil your responsibilities and provide for a successful pre-registration training period. This guide includes examples of the skills, tools and practical application of these competencies to the pre-registration period so that you can be an effective supervisor. 

We run regular Peer Review sessions for supervisors to provide a space to discuss key topics.  

These sessions cover the GOC peer review requirement and are worth three interactive CPD points. They fill up fast, so check the Events page regularly to make sure you don’t miss out.  

These regular drop-in sessions are a chance for current supervisors to meet a senior assessor and ask questions about the Scheme for Registration and more.