Everything you need to know about placement including how it works, what it means for students, mentors, and practices and more.

What is placement?

Placement is a one-week introduction to real-world optometry in which a student primarily ‘shadows’ you and your practice staff to experience both clinical and non-clinical aspects of your practice. A suggested structure for placement week is provided to each mentor/practice.

Placement helps prepare students for the more intensive experience of externship in June and July. While much of placement may be observational, we hope that by the end of the placement week it may be possible for students to perform a partial and a full eye exam under an optometrist mentor’s supervision.

How does it work?

Each final-year student goes on two one‐week placements, each at a different optometry practice. Students are encouraged to experience all of the practice’s workings, including observing interesting cases and – where possible – undertaking a part- and a full optometry examination under mentor supervision.

Each student is covered by indemnity insurance while visiting your practice and signs a Professionalism and Confidentiality Agreement prior to visiting your practice.

What does the commitment mean for the practice?

Commitment from practice mentors can be for just one week, or for multiple weeks; the practice usually takes only one student at a time.

The presence of the student should not usually interfere with (or slow down) the normal operation of your practice, although sometimes this may be unavoidable to a limited extent.

Where possible, placement practices offer their student the opportunity to participate in a partial or full eye examination by the end of their placement week.

Each placement student is required to complete a) an e-log of patient consultations they have observed or undertaken while on placement, and b) an assessment based on placement’s learning objectives, which students submit to the relevant course coordinator. There is no requirement to assess or grade the student – we do this, based on the student e-log and assessment submitted to the course coordinator.

What does placement mean for students?

Students participating in placement are exposed to learning experiences which may not be available within the University of Auckland Eye Clinic and which will help prepare them for entry to the profession.

Benefits include:

  • Students gain a different experience to that of our University clinics, through being part of the real‐world practice of optometry. This includes seeing the business and dispensing sides of a practice, as well as clinical activities, and helping out in the day‐to‐day functions of your practice in order to learn what makes a practice work.
  • Students are able to observe how all members of the team in the practice communicate with patients and with each other, and gain experience in working with the general public, including a wide range of demographics.
  • Students have the chance to observe a range of interesting cases.
  • If possible, students receive an introduction to performing a partial and full eye examination in community practice under the supervision of a mentor.

What experience do students already have?

Students participating in placement have had the following experience at the University of Auckland Eye Clinic and other external locations as part of their Stage 4 and early Stage 5 studies:

  • Performed all the clinical procedures associated with a comprehensive eye examination, including routine dilated fundus examination on a number of patients under supervision
  • Performed other clinical procedures, including gonioscopy, on indication and under the direct supervision of an optometrist
  • Learned about, but not yet practised, therapeutic management of ocular disease
  • Applied their dispensing skills, including recommendation of the most suitable options to meet patients’ visual needs
  • Studied all aspects of clinical optometry in lectures, labs and internal Part 4 and 4.5 (University of Auckland summer clinic rota) clinics
  • Undertaken workshops in communication skills, including cultural competence

What are the benefits to mentors and practices?

Placement mentors are offered an invitation to become an Honorary Teaching Fellow with the University of Auckland. As an Honorary Teaching Fellow you are accorded:

  • Full access to the extensive resources that the University of Auckland library offers, including all of its electronic resources
  • Use of the title “Honorary Teaching Fellow” affiliated with the School of Optometry & Vision Science at the University of Auckland
  • Preferential and cost-reduced access to Continuing Professional Development events within the School of Optometry & Vision Science
  • Use of the following phrase on your website and similar, should you wish it: “Our practice provides teaching services for the University of Auckland's School of Optometry & Vision Science for their Bachelor of Optometry degree”.

Your support is recognised publicly on the School of Optometry and Vision Science website and a video noticeboard at the entrance to the School of Optometry and Vision Science.

You have the opportunity to assess whether you would like to offer students a further position during our three-week, “hands‐on” externships that occur in June and July, and the chance to seek prospective employees for the future.

Note: this is an option; there are no expectations whatsoever that you will take students on the three-week externship or employ placement or externship students in the future.

You also have a chance to experience our students’ enthusiasm and new knowledge!