How the NES glaucoma award training (NESGAT) supports prescribing optometrists and their patients
NESGAT (NES Glaucoma Award Training) is a programme of accredited education and training in glaucoma management, launched in 2020 and delivered by NES Optometry.
Funded by the Scottish Government, this qualification allows independent prescribing optometrists in Scotland to manage discharged patients in the community.
According to the NHS glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. It's usually caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye, which increases pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma can lead to loss of vision if it's not diagnosed and treated early.
NESGAT quality assures the skills and knowledge to support glaucoma care in the community, easing some of the strain on hospital eye care services, and allowing community optometrists to consider new career pathways.
Find out more about NESGAT on TURAS Learn
The Pilot Year
The launch of a new course can bring many of its own challenges, so a lot of planning went into ensuring the launch was as smooth as possible.
Following a successful in-person launch and induction, the COVID-19 pandemic presented many more unique challenges, and the course was conducted virtually for the remainder of the year.
Despite this, 16 optometrists gained their accreditation – a testament to their hard work and enthusiasm. This is a big step towards enhancing community eye care by transforming and pushing the boundaries of the professional roles within Ophthalmology.
What the candidates had to say
We asked the inaugural cohort for feedback on how they found the course. Here are some of their thoughts:
“Having completed NESGAT I am much more confident about managing patients within my ordinary practice who present with signs of glaucoma.”
“I loved meeting this community of optoms, especially during Covid when our social circles were narrowing all around us. It was great to have the discussion board and some of the cases shared there were very helpful. I also enjoyed our Teams meetings.”
“The pace was good and I liked the flexibility. Some of the guests to these meetings were great, especially the one on SLT.”
“My hospital placement was excellent - I feared that I would simply observe an ophthalmologist but it was quite the opposite with lots of patient management.”
Second Cohort Launch
The second cohort launched in April at our virtual induction, and includes 45 candidates from across Scotland, from the Borders to Wick.
In response to feedback received from the first cohort, we implemented the development of an online portfolio to evidence competencies, a move away from our traditional methods and more in line with other health professions.
We are excited to work with them throughout the year to build their knowledge and skills in Glaucoma care and wish them all the best.
Quote from NES Optometry representative
‘We faced a number of unexpected challenges during our pilot year.
However, the impact of COVID-19 on eye care services has confirmed the importance of NESGAT and we feel proud to be supporting such significant redesign of how glaucoma care is delivered in Scotland.’
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June, 04 2021