The University of Melbourne new four year post-graduate course in optometry has received a small first intake but Dr. Alex Gentle, Acting Head of Department and Senior Lecturer at the University’s Department of Optometry and Vision Science, said the university is happy with the current level of interest in the course and anticipates growth in future years.
The Melbourne OD is a Masters level professional entry degree that the university claims “creates a new benchmark in 21st century optometric education.”
The OD qualification is internationally recognised and the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. While the intake in the inaugural year was just 32, Dr. Alex Gentle said he was pleased with the interest in the degree and that the small intake in no way reflected a low level of interest in the course.
“Given that this is the first year of the course, we have been pleased with the interest shown, especially from interstate and North American students. I should also point out that the enrolment figures partly reflect the high academic standard we have maintained in selecting our students, not just the level of interest in the course,” said Dr. Gentle.
The OD qualification is internationally recognised and the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere
“Although we have planned to take larger cohorts into this course into the future, we feel that a smaller cohort in the first year of running may be preferable as it enables us to work more closely with students to ensure that their learning experience is optimal while we are bedding down the new course.
“This was certainly the view we took back in 2002/2003 when we enrolled the first cohort of undergraduate students in Australia to study our five-year therapeutic optometry course, which has been an outstanding success that is changing the face of optometry as a fully comprehensive primary care health profession.”
The Melbourne OD is taught by the Department of Optometry and Vision Science. The curriculum has foundations in medical, vision and optical sciences and provides in-depth study and analysis of their clinical applications.
Clinical studies, which commence in the first year and gradually increase to full-time in the final year are undertaken at a diverse range of metropolitan and regional clinical sites, enabling students to develop more advanced clinical diagnostic and management skills.
Dr. Gentle said that students are unphased by the University’s requirement to undertake studies in optometry for seven years.
“Our indications are that many students who have already undertaken an undergraduate degree in science remain keen to undertake a professional qualification in optometry under the Melbourne Model,” said Dr. Gentle.
“We continue to have significant numbers of students contacting us during their first and second years of undergraduate study, expressing their desire to do the OD and checking that they are studying the correct pre-requisites.
“Students appear to be factoring this next step of postgraduate studies into their career planning and we therefore anticipate our numbers will grow in the future.”