The College of Health Care Professions will offer a blended 36-week certificate program to meet the growing demand for ophthalmology assistants across the Dallas-Forth Worth region.
The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) announced this week it has kicked off a new certificate program to train the next generation of ophthalmology assistants.
According to a news release, the program was created based on direct requests to CHCP by local employers, led by UT Southwestern Medical Center, who noted a high need for skilled ophthalmology assistants.
Ophthalmology work alongside ophthalmologists and sometimes optometrists as they perform their day-to-day duties, often directly assisting patients by performing preliminary exams, administering medications and assisting with office procedures.
"There is so much need for ophthalmology assistants, and there is growing demand for their highly skilled technical expertise," said Jackie Williams, clinical practice manager with the Department of Ophthalmology at UT Southwestern. "It's such an exciting time to enter this field. There are advances made every day that help preserve and improve the vision and quality of life for our patients. We are excited to partner with CHCP in creating new pathways to this growing field."
CHCP added in its news release that demand for ophthalmic assistants appears strong throughout the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the ranks of ophthalmology medical technicians will grow by nearly 15% from 2021 to 2031.
"This program was built directly in response to the needs of our communities and created in partnership with our region's healthcare employers, who identified a shortage of institutionally trained and highly specialized personnel in ophthalmology," CHCP Ophthalmology program director Stacy Caldwell said in the news release. "This is about translating that demand into pathways that are built around the lives of our learners, who are often balancing complicated schedules between work and their family. Ophthalmic assistants are yet another growing pathway to achieving fulfilling healthcare careers."
Moreover, according to the news release, CHCP's blended delivery program, offered initially at its Fort Worth campus, can offer instruction in the preservation and improvement of vision and eye health through online and in-person classes and hands-on clinical experiences. CHCP added that students enrolled in the program will learn about patient evaluation, assisting with interventions and procedures, corrective lenses, imaging, and office and clinical skills.
CHCP also pointed out in its news release that after completing the program students are prepared to take the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant examination administered by the International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (IJCAHPO).
After passing the examination, certified ophthalmic assistants can advance their careers by earning more specialized certifications to advance their careers. CHCP added in its news release the program will be managed by an advisory committee that includes employers, community members and educators that will regularly review the curriculum and outcomes to ensure it continues to meet the needs of healthcare providers in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
As a leader in healthcare education and training, CHCP helps students develop the skills they need to meet the demands of today's healthcare industry. Founded by physicians, CHCP is focused on healthcare education and training and its accredited programs have been developing healthcare professionals for 30 years.