Upon successful completion, learners gain a BSc (Hons) in Healthcare Science (Ophthalmic Imaging), and are able to apply for professional registration with the Academy for Healthcare Science.
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About the Healthcare Science (Ophthalmic Imaging) Degree Apprenticeship
This programme is the first of its kind and has been specifically developed in partnership with the Gloucestershire Retinal Education Group (GREG) to support the growing need for technically skilled Ophthalmic Imaging Practitioners.
It provides ophthalmic technicians with the opportunity to gain a recognised qualification in their chosen career pathway for the first time. This programme is ideal for employers who are looking to nurture their existing talent, as well as those looking to train new entrants into the profession.
On this programme, learners of all ages and levels of experience have the chance to develop as confident and resilient practitioners that are conscientious, adaptable and safe to practice.
Teaching is delivered over 3 years through a combination of distance learning and in-practice development of clinical skills.
Modules are delivered through a combination of online lectures, action learning sets, clinical skills sessions, seminars and class-based discussions. Clinical skills are initially taught in blocks on campus using our specialist facilities, and then they are reinforced back in the workplace using mentor-lead competency assessments.
Clinical skills blocks are always scheduled in advance and avoid peak clinical periods to help with planning around work and personal commitments. Learners attend approximately five study blocks in year 1, and four blocks in years 2 and 3.
Upon completion, learners are able to apply for registration with the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS).
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What are Degree Apprenticeships?
Degree apprenticeships are a fantastic way to upskill employees and train new staff. They contribute to improved competitiveness and productivity, as well as increased staff retention.
Degree apprentices study for higher level qualifications alongside working. As such, they spend at least 6 working hours each week carrying out ‘off-the-job training’ where they study for their degree and gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours that are required to successfully complete the apprenticeship.
Large employers can use their apprenticeships levy to pay for apprenticeship training. Smaller firms can claim up to 95 per cent of these costs from the Government. This means apprenticeships are a cost-effective choice for both the employer and learner.
Meet the lecturer
Tracy Longden-Thurgood, Subject Leader
Tracy is qualified in both healthcare and strategic HR and specialises in learning and development. She holds an MSc in Biomedical Science, a PGCE, and an Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management and Development.
She now leads University of Gloucestershire’s Healthcare Science programmes, as well as being responsible for external quality assurance of the Diabetic Health Screening Diploma from Gloucestershire Hospitals Accredited Centre.
She is also a member of the Health Care Professions Council (Biomedical Science).
Work-Based Learning 1
This covers the initial clinical, scientific, and technical competency training necessary to work safely within the learner’s clinical placement.
It provides practical experiences and by the end of the module, they will be expected to apply, in practice, a range of technical and clinical skills and critically reflect on and develop their performance.
Clinical and Professional Practice 1
This module teaches the clinical considerations for preparing a patient for optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanning.
Healthcare Science in Context
This cross-disciplinary module provides learners with an introduction to the study of human disease, exploring historical, social and scientific perspectives as well as an opportunity to explore how modern pathology services are structured and operated. Learners are introduced to the pathophysiology of diabetes and how NHS policy supports the prevention, management, and treatment of the disease.
Scientific and Technical Practice 1
This introduces learners to key elements of investigation and experimentation and provides them with a strong foundation in instrumentation, data collection and interpretation, and the relevance to patient care.
Cell and Molecular Biology
This module teaches learners about the basic building blocks of human biology. It also explores how the cells of the eye reproduce under normal situations, and how repair mechanisms and scarring can impact cellular function and patient prognoses.
Human Anatomy and Physiology
This module offers an introduction to the
key anatomical features of the body and
how physiological function is controlled to maintain homeostasis and health. It also explores the basic knowledge of anatomy necessary to practice within an ophthalmic imaging role.
It includes a detailed knowledge of the eyeball and the surrounding structures, including gross anatomic features and ocular appendages. The nerve and blood supply to the orbit, the autonomic innervation of the orbital structures, the visual pathway, and associated visual reflexes are also taught.
Introduction to Ophthalmic Imaging
This module introduces learners to the routine tests used in ophthalmology, such as Visual Acuity, Visual fields, Topography, Keratometry, Fundus Imaging (stereo and colour fundus photography), confocal scanning ophthalmoscopes (cSLO), fundus autofluorescence, and retinographies (eg infrared/red free/multicolour).
Acquisition Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Scans
This covers the principles of OCT scan capture, evaluation, and reporting.
Learners study scan capture of the anterior segment, vitreo-retinal and choroidal structures of the eye.
The advantages and disadvantages of each OCT scanning method are also explored, and apprentices learn how to identify appropriate OCT scans for a variety of clinical conditions
Work-Based Learning 2
This module builds on the training and competency assessment gained in year one.
Scientific and Technical Practice 2
This module builds on the scientific and technical skills learned in year one. Learners explore new and evolving ophthalmic technologies and their role in providing high quality retinal imaging.
Ophthalmic Imaging and Measurement
This module develops understanding of the function, operation and characteristics of instruments used in ophthalmic imaging.
It covers advanced confocal scanning ophthalmoscopes (widefield and peripheral lesions), fundus autofluorescence and retinographies (eg infrared/red free/multicolour).
Apprentices learn how to assess the quality
of images and measurements, recognise artefacts and adjust techniques to obtain the most appropriate results for the clinical purpose.
Clinical and Professional Practice 2
This module allows learners to explore the principles of quality assurance and how ophthalmic services can be improved through effective clinical governance procedures.
Interpreting and Analysing Data in Healthcare Science
This module provides the applied scientific and technical knowledge needed to collect, interpret and report patient data.
Apprentices will learn how to use OCT scans relating to clinical diagnosis and the treatment of eye conditions.
They will develop a high level of understanding of some common abnormalities seen in clinical practice.
They will also study ways to prevent misinterpretation of OCT scans such as scan quality measures, variation and common errors (eg segmentation and measurement errors).
This module focuses on anterior segment imaging and includes anterior segment photography, optical coherence tomography, ultrasound biomicroscopy, specular microscopy, the pentacam, the placido disc and biometry of the anterior segment.
By the end of the module, learners are able to assess how recent investigations compare to previous investigations and how these may affect treatment decisions and the management of outcomes in clinical practice.
The following investigations are considered: narrow angle glaucoma; refractive surgery; preoperative assessment for patients undergoing a variety of surgeries or treatments for corneal abnormalities; monitoring of pigmented lesions of the iris or angle.
Work-Based Learning 3
This module finalises the year one and two training and competency assessment required to enable registration with the Academy of Healthcare Science.
Clinical and Professional Practice 3
This module increases understanding and application of patient-centred care, safe practice, and multi-disciplinary team working to support patient pathways.
Learners will act with minimal supervision to carry out complex diagnostic ophthalmic/optometric tests and make appropriate referrals.
Complex Diagnostic Testing
This module develops knowledge and understanding of specialised ophthalmic/optometric diagnostic tests and procedures. Tests include Goldmann perimetry (static and kinetic techniques), ocular ultrasound techniques (A and B scan) and colour vision testing.
On this module, learners are equipped with knowledge and techniques to undertake angiographic investigations, as well as those not requiring the use of contrast media.
Apprentices learn: the principles and techniques for obtaining angiographic images (including the anterior segment and fundus); how to digitally process images and carryout image analysis for treatment; the anatomic concepts of fluorescein and indocyanine green (ICG) angiography; the physical and pharmacological properties of fluorescein sodium and ICG fluorescent contrast media; and the method for IV cannulation and administration of IV contrast medium.
Learners also study methods and techniques for the assessment of patients with medical retinal disease, including diabetic retinopathy and ARMD, and treatment of these conditions.
Advanced Ophthalmic Investigations
This module provides an introduction to more advanced specialised ophthalmic investigations as used in emerging patient disease. Investigations will include, but not necessarily be limited to: Micro Perimetry, Imaging Modalities, Slit Lamp, Fluorescein and ICG interpretation, Electro-diagnostics, A and B Scan capture, Scanning Confocal Ophthalmoscopes, Portable imaging devices, Tonometry (non-contact & applanation), and Autorefraction.
This module provides learners with the opportunity to carry out an in-depth research project in an area of personal interest and relevant to their ophthalmic imaging field.
The End Point Assessment (EPA) is an independent assessment that takes place after the final year of the apprenticeship. It is designed to test that the learner is competent in their occupation by assessing the knowledge, skills and behaviour (KSB) outcomes detailed in the approved Apprenticeship Standard.
For this degree apprenticeship, the EPA consists of three components:
- a 1 hour written ‘readiness for practice’ test;
- a professional discussion based on the apprentices’ portfolio (which should include evidence collated throughout the duration of the apprenticeship);
- a research presentation of up to 15 minutes, followed by a 15 minute discussion and assessor review.
All apprentices must pass their EPA to successfully complete their apprenticeship and academic
Teaching for this apprenticeship will start at Oxstalls Campus, then transfer to the new City Campus in Gloucester in the 2024-25 academic year. This provides time to ensure a smooth transition and familiarisation with the new facilities for all.
Our new City Campus is partly funded by Gloucester’s successful £20million ‘Levelling Up’ bid, the building is being refurbished to an exceptionally high standard and will include state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for all our learners.
We have also secured a landmark £29million in funding from Barclays linked to our commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals: to recruit a higher proportion of UK-domiciled young BAME students; widen access, engagement and participation for students from deprived areas; and to reduce gas and electricity CO2 emissions as part of its commitment to Net Zero by 2030.
As part of its decarbonisation drive, the University has also secured £3.3million funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of its Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, delivered by Salix. The scheme aims to put the public sector at the forefront of decarbonising buildings in the UK.
As well as training the region’s future nurses and teachers, it is estimated that over its lifetime, City Campus will add over £300million of direct and indirect value to the county’s economy, as well as more than 4,000 jobs.
Employer and learner support
Learners have a personal tutor throughout their apprenticeship, as well as a learner coach who conducts reviews and supports them towards successful completion. They are also supported by module tutors and our Helpzone staff, who are contactable by telephone, in person and online.
Employers are able to access our dedicated apprenticeship support team, who are here to ensure that businesses get the best from both the learner and the programme.
All apprentices have access to:
· experienced professionals, who are experts in their field
· state-of-the-art facilities
· all university libraries and IT and facilities
· discounted travel with Stagecoach across the South West network
· an NUS card offering great discounts at restaurants and high street stores
· a vibrant social scene complete with bars, sports clubs, gyms and leisure facilities
View our apprenticeships FAQ guide and discover answers to the most commonly asked questions about higher and degree apprenticeships.
Eligibility and Entry requirements
Apprentices should be in full-time employment (eg employed for at least 30 hours per week) throughout the duration of the apprenticeship.
Apprentices must have GCSE grade C/4 or above in Maths and English before they complete the EPA (or an equivalent Level 2 qualification). In some cases, apprentices are able to complete Functional Skills alongside their apprenticeship in order to have the needed Level 2 qualification ahead of EPA.
Apprentices must also have one of the following:
- 112 UCAS points (typically BBC at A Level), including one science subject;
- DMM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in a science or human health-based subject;
- A pass in a health-related Access to Higher Education Diploma (60 credits), of which 45 should be at level 3 and 15 should be at Merit or Distinction. A minimum of 18 credits should be in a science subject;
- Successful completion of a level 3 or 4 Healthcare Science Apprenticeship;
- Other relevant experience (agreed on a case-by-case basis).
Employers may set additional entry requirements suitable for their organisational needs.
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