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Mentoring and support

Group of people doing mentoring

Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) is currently offering newly qualified optometrists mentoring and support. This is the first time in the UK that an independent organisation has offered this support.

The aim of this project is to support newly qualified optometrists to give them the confidence and tools to improve their practice. Each optometrist is assigned a designated Mentor and has access to an online platform for portfolios and interactions, a peer support group, peer review face-to-face sessions and a webinar. The pilot is due to finish in the Summer of 2020.

Previously support for optometrists after they qualify has been limited. Research suggests this makes them more risk adverse and likely to refer patients unnecessarily to hospital.

There is also evidence that increasing numbers of optometrists are leaving their careers within three years of qualifying. HEIW has taken action to make a positive change by introducing a pilot mentorship pilot programme.

This support will not only give a mechanism to discuss cases and clinical decision making with an experienced mentor, it will also provide signposting for useful clinical literature and career advice. The online platform has been designed in partnership with HEIW’s revalidation support unit.

At a time when clinical confidence and experience are still developing, this additional support for newly qualified optometrists gives them the confidence and tools to improve their practice, directly benefitting patient care..

Interview with Hannah Jones

Hannah Jones is newly qualified optometrist in Wales, and one of the first to receive the mentoring support:

Q: Why is further support from a mentor important to your career progression?
A: In any healthcare occupation, I believe you are constantly learning from new research and other’s experiences. Having a mentor will allow me to see other optometrist’s mode of practice and create my own. I think this support could be very beneficial to future optometrists.
Q: Why did you decide to use the mentor service?
A: The transition between pre reg to fully qualified optometrist is very daunting. It is reassuring to have a mentor that you can approach to talk through your decision making and ask how you could improve in the future. I am looking forward to getting some advice on how I can progress my future and gain further qualifications.

The newly qualified optometrists are being mentored by optometric tutors from the Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC) (link to www.wopec site) under supervision from Sharon Beatty and Nik Sheen (not sure if you have links to individuals details) in conjunction with the Re-validation support team in HEIW.

The independent evaluation is being undertaken by Professor Alison Bullock in CureMed at Cardiff University.