The Workforce Development Programme was a programme funded by Health Education England which enhanced BIOS’s current initiatives in place for developing and securing the orthoptic workforce throughout the UK both now and in the future.
We teamed up with our colleagues from the British Dietetic Association (BDA) to deliver a number of ambitious and exciting projects between March 2022 and July 2023.
Pre-Registration Education & Training
1. Drive innovation in pre-registration practice-based learning (PBL)
These projects focused on identifying innovative opportunities and approaches to PBL, providing information to share good practice and maximise the potential for increasing the number of PBL opportunities. We also undertook a brand development and promotional campaign to showcase and encourage these approaches.
These resources and the associated campaign will be focused on a new section of the website, to be launched soon.
2. Explore the feasibility of using a common assessment tool for Orthoptic PBL
This project explored the feasibility of using a common assessment tool across all PBL sites (similar to that used by Physiotherapists).
The feasibility report concluded that a CAT would be feasible. The full report is available here.
Diversity & Inclusion
3. Drive improvements in equality, diversity and inclusion within pre-registration education and careers
We worked, along with other AHP Professional Bodies, to provide information on our webpages regarding Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) and to ensure that EDI is a golden thread through all of the work we do.
We created a webpage on EDI, to house information and form a focus for future work in this area. We also hosted a pre-registration EDI workshop, jointly with the BDA.
4. Promote orthoptic roles across the NHS and social care services
We’ve developed a series of resources to promote careers in orthoptics, including postcards and flyers, ‘day in the life’ videos, and case studies.
These are live on our newly branded careers pages.
5. To target recruitment to orthoptics as a career choice in Republic of Ireland (ROI)
Alongside the Irish Association of Orthoptists (IAO), we have worked to counter shortages of orthoptists in ROI. This has included the creation of ROI-specific careers flyers, a careers video, and attendance at careers fairs in Dublin. We have also worked with the University of Liverpool to ringfence places for ROI students at home student fees.
6. Develop resources to support career progression at advanced practice level
Led by an expert working group of dietitians and orthoptists, we developed a suite of resources to support advanced clinical practice (ACP), including case studies and sample job plans and business cases, hosted on our ACP pages.
7. Identify and promote opportunities for apprenticeships across the profession
We looked to develop a fuller understanding of the core and enhanced practice that currently exists in order to build apprenticeship capacity in the future. This included carrying out a further workforce survey, and the development of Roles and Responsibilities guidance for clinical assistants.
An online event was hosted to promote existing opportunities for apprenticeships in ACP, and a series of videos were produced featuring current or former ACP students. These are hosted on the ACP pages.
Level 6 orthoptic (pre-registration) degree apprenticeship pre-proposal documentation has been submitted and scoping is underway to support the development of an orthoptic enhanced clinical practice apprenticeship curriculum.
We also completed a review of the core curriculum for pre-registration degrees to support apprenticeship, resulting in a revised Curriculum Framework for Pre-registration Orthoptic Education and Training, launched in October.
8. Develop examples and case studies of best practice in early orthoptic careers
We collected evidence of best practice and have created a series of case studies of early orthoptic careers, highlighting the vital role of preceptorship for new graduates, as well as a new guidance document for preceptors, Heads of service, or professional leads on using our preceptorship programme. These have been incorporated into a newly expanded New Graduates & Preceptorship page on the website.
9. Support inclusive engagement in advancing practice and research opportunities
We consulted with members to discover what resources they would need to advance their career by talking advantage of research and practice opportunities. This included ACP webinars, as part of the wider HEE Conference, and an upcoming pilot study day on Advancing Research in Practice.
10. Facilitate a greater understanding of the opportunities presented by the Orthoptic Support Workforce
We produced a series of resources to support and promote the role of orthoptic clinical assistants, in keeping with our vision statement, including Roles and Responsibilities Guidance, an FAQ document, case studies, and a webinar to celebrate this section of the workforce.
These are available on the specially developed Orthoptic Support Workforce Hub.