Original Research

Public sector optometrists’ perspectives on a decentralised model of clinical training for optometry in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Nabeela Ebrahim, Fatima Karim, Mvelo Gasa, Kereshni Poonvaganum, Faaizah Gangat, Diane B. van Staden
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 78, No 1 | a489 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v78i1.489 | © 2019 Nabeela Ebrahim, Fatima Karim, Mvelo Gasa, Kereshni Poonvaganum, Faaizah Gangat, Diane B. van Staden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 November 2018 | Published: 12 September 2019

About the author(s)

Nabeela Ebrahim, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Fatima Karim, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Mvelo Gasa, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Kereshni Poonvaganum, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Faaizah Gangat, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Diane B. van Staden, Discipline of Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Optometry training in KwaZulu-Natal has embraced a decentralised approach in keeping with other health professions. Decentralised clinical training enables health science students to gain clinical exposure at public hospitals during their undergraduate training using a service learning strategy. The perspectives of key stakeholders in this collaborative agreement between the provincial department of health and local academic institutions were unexplored.

Aim: The research aimed to explore KwaZulu-Natal’s public sector optometrists’ perspectives on decentralised clinical training in optometry.

Setting: This study involves optometrists employed within public health facilities in KwaZulu-Natal.

Methods: The research followed a qualitative design. Sampling was purposive, with the sample population including all public sector-employed optometrists within the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health. Questionnaires were used to collect data, which were thematically analysed to gain insight into participants’ perspectives relating to the decentralised clinical training (DCT) in optometry.

Results: In KwaZulu-Natal, DCT in optometry as a revised clinical training strategy is generally supported by public sector optometrists. It presents opportunities for expanded access to eye care for public sector patients and a mutual learning opportunity between students and practitioners. However, resources required for comprehensive optometric assessments are significantly lacking within the public health sector. Training for public sector optometrists who would be expected to serve as clinical educators was also an identified need.

Conclusion: While there are various challenges facing optometry practice within the public health sector in KwaZulu-Natal, decentralised clinical training holds promise for the improved eye care service capacity in KwaZulu-Natal.


Keywords

optometry; health science training models; public health sector; decentralised clinical training; eye health

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