The connection between optometry and other health professionals must be enhanced, according to researchers evaluating interprofessional education and collaboration between optometry students and diabetic care teams.
From January 2011 to June 2012, fourth-year optometry students from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science were offered the opportunity to participate in a 1-day placement in the diabetes clinic of a local family health team.
Fifty placements were available on a first-come, first-served basis to optometry students in addition to 15 health professionals and interprofessional students, to evaluate the intensity of collaboration between optometry and the interprofessional team in clinic.
The role of the optometrist on the team was to review the date of each patient’s last eye examination, provide input on patient management and educate diabetic patients about the importance of annual eye exams.
Before going to the clinic, the students attended a lecture on interprofessional collaboration and the role optometry plays within the diabetes health team.
Eight-one fourth-year optometry students completed a survey after the lecture. Twelve optometry students and seven members of the diabetes team completed the same post-interprofessional collaboration survey.
Prior to clinic, students said there is a need for health professionals to participate in interprofessional collaboration and that doing so would provide enhanced patient care as well as collaborative management, according to researchers. Only half of the students, 52%, were clear about which patients and situations would benefit from interprofessional collaboration.
While the majority of students felt their optometric education promoted an “intercollaborative approach,” they also felt they needed additional training in interprofessional collaboration to feel more comfortable with it, researchers wrote.
Members of the family health team felt that collaboration with optometry was active, whereas most of the optometrist students who responded felt that this collaboration was still in development and not yet at an active level, they wrote.
Only 35% of optometry students admitted to consulting other health care practitioners regularly.
Moreover, optometry students did not feel that they were always included as part of the interprofessional team.
“A primary care interprofessional collaborative team with optometry integration may be a valuable model for risk reduction of vision loss in high-risk individuals,” researchers wrote. – by Abigail Sutton
Disclosures: The authors reported the paper was supported by an American Optometric Foundation Vistakon Innovation in Education grant.