Flinders University is planning to introduce a new course in optometry that could reduce the flow of local students interstate and boost eye health in indigenous communities.
The course will involve five years of study with the first intake of students in 2010.
Flinders course will fill a crucial gap in optometry training with the only qualifications currently offered in Queensland, NSW, and Victoria. The State’s lack of optometry studies – which provide the skills to manage important eye and vision problems – is compounded by the fact that some South Australian students remain and practice interstate after graduation.
While details are yet to be finalised in consultation with optometry practitioners and the national accreditation body, Flinders optometry course will be introduced as a specialisation in Vision Science within a three-year Bachelor of Medical Science, to be followed by a two-year Master of Optometry.
Flinders newly-appointed Executive Dean of Health Sciences, Professor Michael Kidd, said the new course would further enhance the University’s existing strength in teaching medicine and nursing, and would also draw on Flinders advanced eye and vision research capability.
“Flinders School of Medicine and Faculty of Health Sciences are highly regarded teaching institutions and a degree in Vision Science and a Master of Optometry will further consolidate the University’s leadership in health sciences education,” Professor Kidd said today.
“Flinders aims to be the first choice for health professional courses in South Australia,” he said.
Flinders initiative will help overcome a shortage of optometrists in rural and remote areas of Australia, and offers a potential boost for the treatment of serious eye problems in indigenous communities.
The University has strong teaching and research activities throughout SA and the Northern Territory with its Rural Clinical School, NT Rural Clinical School, Centre for Remote Health, NT Clinical School and Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health.
Professor Kidd said Flinders regional teaching model, which includes long term placements of medical students in local communities, could be applied to the optometry courses.
Flinders is also exploring possible links and partnerships with optical lens and frame manufacturers in SA.
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