Supervision FAQs

Answers to our most frequently asked questions about supervision.

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If my registered supervisor is absent from the practice can I be supervised by someone else?

Yes, you can be supervised by another GOC-registered optometrist on a temporary basis. If your registered supervisor is unable to supervise you they must ensure they ask another optometrist or another professional recognised as being competent for this function by the Opticians Act, i.e. a GOC or GMC registrant such as a contact lens optician, dispensing optician, ophthalmologist  to supervise you in their absence. You must remember that you cannot perform sight tests unsupervised at any point during your pre-registration period.

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Who can be a temporary supervisor?

Any registered optometrist can be a temporary supervisor. There is no qualifying period, College membership is not required and neither is completion of the College’s online supervision training. It can also be another professional recognized as being competent for this function by the Opticians Act, i.e. a contact lens optician for contact lens work within their remit, dispensing optician, ophthalmologist. Your supervisor should check the eligibility of the person they have asked to supervise you in their absence. You must remember that you cannot perform sight tests unsupervised at any point during your pre-registration period.

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How long can I be under temporary supervision for?

Trainees can be supervised by a temporary supervisor for up to 30 days (six working weeks based on five days) over a 12 month period from their practice training start date. However, if the supervision is for every day of the trainee's working week, it can only be for up to only four consecutive (one after the other) weeks (20 days) and once this has been reached no further temporary supervision days are allowed. If the trainee's time in the placement exceeds 12 months from their start date, then their temporary supervision allowance will be renewed from the anniversary of their start date. For example if they began on 7 July 2016 they would have 30 days of temporary supervision allowed until the 7 July 2017 and then a further 30 days from the 7 July 2017.


  • If the four weeks are non-consecutive, i.e. one week of temporary supervision in July, one in September, one in October, one in January, it would only count as 20 days because the weeks are not consecutive. Therefore, a further 10 days would be allowed throughout the rest of the year to reach the 30 day limit.
  • If the temporary supervision is for every day of the working week but occurs for less than four weeks (20 days) then it would fall under the 30 day allowance. For example,  if the temporary supervision was for every day over three weeks it would count as 15 days out of the 30 day allowance. Any further temporary supervision days, either as part of a working week or the entire working week, would then be added to this and once 30 days had been reached no further temporary days would be allowed.
  • In situations where the temporary supervision occurs on odd days and/or does not cover all the days of a trainee's working week, they are added to each other until the 30 day limit is reached.  For example two days of temporary supervision each week over six weeks counts as 12 days and additional days can then be added to other days until the 30 day limit is reached. Provided that any weeks where the temporary supervision has been for every day has not reached four weeks (20 days), these full weeks can be added to reach the 30 day total.

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Is any paperwork required for temporary supervision?

No, however, you should check that you have not already reached the limits for temporary supervision for a pre-registration training year. 

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What is the role of the supervisor?

The role of the supervisor is explained in detail in the Scheme for Registration Handbook.

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How long does an optometrist need to have been qualified for to become a supervisor and what are the other qualifying criteria?

If they are supervising as an only, principal or joint supervisor then it must be at least three years from the date on which they were entered on the GOC register as a fully qualified optometrist. A second supervisor, who can only do it with a principal, only or joint supervisor, must have been on the register as a fully qualified optometrist for at least one year. A secondary supervisor must be registered as working in the same practice as at least one only, principal or joint supervisor. More information can be found in the Supervision section.

Supervisors must also be College members and have completed the online supervisor training modules.

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What happens if my registered supervisor changes during my training?

Visit the Changing my supervision section for details on updating your supervision arrangements.

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Can a supervisor supervise more than one trainee at the same time?

Usually this is not possible. However it is permissible in the following situations that a supervisor could supervise a maximum of two trainees at the same time:

  1. If the supervisor is an only, principal or joint supervisor (with the required three years registration as a fully qualified optometrist) and at least one (or both) of the trainees has completed Stage 1 of their training and is at the Stage 2 or OSCE stage of their training. This is to ensure that having two trainees will not have a negative impact on the experience of either trainee. The supervisor would still need to guarantee both trainees a minimum of 20 hours consulting room access.
  2. The supervisor and trainee are based in a hospital.

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Does my supervisor need to sign my prescriptions?

NHS prescriptions
As the person approved on the list to issue prescriptions, the supervisor always had to sign NHS prescriptions.

Private prescriptions
The College advises that it is good practice for supervisors to sign all private prescriptions.  

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What happens if I have a problem/dispute with my supervisor?

You should discuss any issue with your supervisor in the first instance and try to resolve it with them. It is always best to try to resolve issues in-house. Speaking to the person in the company responsible for pre-registration training may also be helpful. If you are still having problems, you should speak to your College assessor and if the problem is still not resolved, then contact us.

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What equipment and drugs need to be provided in a practice with a pre-registration trainee?

The equipment provided in the practice will be that normally required for refraction, dispensing and eye examination: including access to visual fields equipment, colour vision evaluation tests, facilities for taking intra-ocular pressure and equipment for the evaluation of the ocular motor state and binocular perception.

Also the supervisor needs to give the trainee access to, and encourage the use of under supervision, those drugs and solutions normally used in the practice of optometry eg cycloplegics, mydriatics, topical anaesthetics, stains, decongestants and prophylactics.

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