Ophthalmic Medical Practice Assistants
Ophthalmic Medical Practice Assistants (OMPA) are trained medical practice assistants who chose to specialise in ophthalmology. The continuous ageing of populations with increasing eye care needs suggests that the number of ophthalmologists in practice and training worldwide will show a shortfall in both developing and high-income countries, such as Switzerland. Though the number of ophthalmologists in high-income countries is increasing, the population aged 60+ is growing more than twice as fast as the number of ophthalmologists. Therefore, the gap between need and supply is widening, a challenge that needs to be urgently addressed.
Switzerland currently has no formalised training for OMPA. Thus, the development of an accredited, standardised programme specifically for ophthalmic assistants and eventually ophthalmic technicians fills that gap.
The above has motivated us to launch a project aiming at defining the core curriculum of Ophthalmic Medical Practice Assistants as well as establishing a competency-based training programme inspired by International best practices and in compliance with national regulations
The training programme envisages a modular system which has been defined by the SAoO in collaboration with a reputable Institution in Winterthur (Zentrum für Ausbildung in Gesundheitswesen, ZAG) in accordance with the world best practices (International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, IJCAHPO, and the International Council of Ophthalmology, ICO). The foundational knowledge and skills required are the following core competencies: Introduction to Ophthalmology, Basic Skills and Advanced Skills. Students will follow a theoretical training and practical exercises at the training institute while they are employed in an ophthalmic practice or clinic.
However, establishing competency-based training programmes can be expensive and substantial financial and material resources are required during both the development and establishment phases. Support from ophthalmologists, public and private institutions as well as the industry throughout Switzerland is crucial prior to launching this course.
We are committed to provide higher quality education and training practices that will reflect in higher quality patient eye-care in Switzerland. A well-structured and standardized training programme is a guarantee that graduates from an accredited institution have attained a level that meets or exceeds standards that were developed by experts in the field and are ready to practice at a certain level. Although it is not guaranteed that every graduate will become a successful professional; an accredited training programme ensures that the student has demonstrated a certain set of skills and abilities that are reflected in his/her final score.