Original Research

Perceptions and opinions of graduating South African optometry students on the proposed community service

K. P. Mashige, O. A. Oduntan, N. Rampersad
African Vision and Eye Health | South African Optometrist: Vol 72, No 1 | a43 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v72i1.43 | © 2013 K. P. Mashige, O. A. Oduntan, N. Rampersad | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 December 2013 | Published: 04 December 2013

About the author(s)

K. P. Mashige, BSc BOptom CAS MOptom, South Africa
O. A. Oduntan, BSc(Hons)Optom PhD
N. Rampersad,, South Africa

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Community service (CS) was introduced inSouth Africa in an attempt to address the shortageand maldistribution of health care professionalswithin the public sector. The Professional Board forOptometry and Dispensing Opticians (PBODO)has approved legislation for the introductionof CS for graduating optometry students. This study examined the perceptions and opinionsof graduating optometry students regarding the proposed CS. A mixed-method design(questionnaires and interviews) was used. Bothapproaches yielded similar results. The quantitativecomponent included 119 participants, aged between 20 and 35 years (mean age and standard deviation;22.8 ± 2.3 years). There were 43.2% Blacks, 28.5%Whites, 19.1% Indians and 9.2% Coloureds. The qualitative part included fourteen participantsfrom the Optometry Department of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The major themes emergingfrom the questions concerning the participants’ perceived advantages and benefits of CS were (i) it would improve the eye care service delivery to disadvantaged communities; (ii) it would improve the technical and clinical skills of the graduating optometrists and (iii) it would enhance their confidence, personal and social skills. Some of the perceived drawbacks cited by the participants about such service included poor remuneration and concerns about personal safety, transport and accommodation. The findings of this study suggest that graduating optometry students acknowledge the importance of CS in improving access of many South Africans to quality eye care. In order to maximise the full benefits of CS, all stakeholders need to address the highlighted concerns of the participants. (S Afr Optom 2013 72(1) 11-18)


community service, public health op- tometry, South African optometry students; training and teaching; education


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