4.3 Changes to patient number requirements

Why have the patient number requirements changed?

Following a GOC consultation, we have made changes to the patient episode requirements from the 2020-21 cohort to reflect the changes in optometric practice that have been accelerated or caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To reflect changing optometric practice, the minimum numbers now give less weight to dispensing, and increased weight to contact lens care and enhanced optometric roles.

The focus on minimum numbers for both patient encounter categories and patient characteristics ensure that trainees gain the breadth of experience required to practise safely and effectively at the point of full registration.

We have included teaching encounters as part of the contact lens category to reflect this important part of practice.

Why do trainees need to keep a reflective learning portfolio?

A structured approach to reflective learning will help trainees to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours to learn and practise independently, and to take responsibility and be accountable for their professional decisions and actions. It is an important part of preparing to be an optometrist, and we therefore require all trainees to engage in structured reflection from the beginning of the pre-registration period.

The GOC is planning to introduce new continuing professional development requirements for registrants, and from 2022 we expect that optometrists will need to demonstrate engagement in reflective learning to meet regulatory CPD requirements. Keeping a reflective learning portfolio will help trainees to prepare for these longer-term changes.