Singapore’s reputation in providing world-class patient care could not have been achieved without the dedication and skills of nurses who undergo extensive training throughout their careers.
From basic ophthalmic nursing to the development of the advanced diploma offered together with Nanyang Polytechnic in the late 90s and early 2000s, nursing training in Singapore has come a long way.
In May 2014, SNEC partnered with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore to develop its first formal training programme offering different levels of training and certification for allied health professionals such as ophthalmic technicians and ophthalmic nurses.
The programme has been further accredited by the US-based International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel for Ophthalmology (IJCAHPO), making SNEC the first institution in Southeast Asia to receive the recognition.
Participants who complete the programme will receive course certificates endorsed by the three organisations — IJCAHPO, SNEC and Duke-NUS. With the certification programme in place, the SNEC is poised to become a regional training and examination centre for IJCAHPO certificate programmes and hopes to fulfil its role as the regional training hub for ophthalmic staff at all levels.
SNEC has been appointed as the regional examination and testing centre of the International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (IJCAHPO), through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing on 10 November 2017. SNEC will work towards becoming the regional training centre for IJCAHPO certification exams in the near future.
Through this appointment, SNEC will be an official examination and testing centre outside the United States of America for allied health personnel to be training internationally certified as ophthalmic technicians and ophthalmic assistants. This appointment establishes SNEC as an allied health centre of excellence, delivering quality eye care services to patients in Singapore and the region. Candidates interested to take the IJCAHPO exams can take those exams in SNEC without travelling to the USA.
Our very first batch of ophthalmic technicians have successfully passed their international certification exam to obtain their Certificate of Ophthalmic Technician (COT) last month.
The certificate demonstrates their proficiency in eye care delivery, which include skills such as visual assessments, various investigations for eye care and diagnostics, equipment use and repair, medical ethics, and many more.
The Certificate of Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) & COT exams are administered by the International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (IJCAPHO), which has appointed SNEC as its regional examination and testing centre. The centre aims to train up more Allied Ophthalmic Personnel (AOP) to enhance eye care delivery in the region.
From left to right:Assoc Prof Ian Yeo, Manivannan Udayaraj, Jackson Kwok, Lee Lin Jun, Patrick Ng, Craig Simms, Dr Thiyagarajan Jayabaskar, Dr Lynn Anderson, Eileen Lim, Abigail Ruth Hendriks, S Mohan Ram Lakshmanasamudram, Assoc Prof Vicki Drury, Claire Ong
SNEC had entered a strategic partnership with Santen Pharmaceutical Asia Pte. Ltd. in December 2020 to provide educational programs for Healthcare Professionals in the Asia Pacific region including countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.
The key objective of the partnership is to jointly develop and deploy an enhanced educational program to address the shortage of trained healthcare professionals, which will contribute to development of the eye care ecosystem throughout the region. The program delivery leverages on conducting the program using a combination of knowledge delivery via the online learning management platform and skills delivery via a hands-on onsite skills development practicum.
A 5-day onsite Train-the-Trainer program was launched in June 2022 at Vietnam National Eye Hospital (VNEH) where a pool of VNEH master trainers underwent a comprehensive program that equipped them teaching pedagogy concepts and facilitation skills to deliver the "SNEC Allied Ophthalmic Program (AOP) for VNEH." Subsequently, a 2-month offsite pilot program was launched in VNEH in end July to mid-September 2022. In the pilot program, VNEH master trainers took on the lead role to deliver the pilot program to a total of 23 VNEH trainees with co-facilitations and support from SNEC program team.
The pilot program coverage consists of a total of 13 AOP topic offerings which includes 2 competency-based basic ophthalmic investigation skills such as Visual field and instilling eyedrops. To enhance learning and bridge language barrier as not all VNEH trainees are conversant in English language, an interactive e-learning content had been developed and translated to Vietnamese language. The program team had also attended a site-visit to better understand VNEH's clinical workflow and patient load as well as equipment used so as to contextualize the skills training to ensure relevancy of the pilot program. Modular review and feedback sessions were also conducted at the end of each module during the pilot program to evaluate for program improvements.
SNEC, Santen and VNEH are working in close collaboration to launch the upcoming full AOP program launch at VNEH in September 2023.
In this project, two stage initiative was executed where in the first step, SNEC trained 15 master trainers on-site and developed a pilot project to test the trainability and efficacy of new teaching methods using blended learning.
From the TTT program post training evaluation, the RSCM Kirana master trainers had shown their appreciation in the use of eLearning content that were translated to Bahasa Indonesia to aid learning. The online content which were easily accessed via the learning management system had also enhanced the face to face training delivery by SNEC trainers and facilitators. All the trainers were excellent in delivery and had made learning very interesting and engaging.
In the second step, following the Train the Trainer program (TTT), SNEC and RSCM Kirana launched the pilot course in ophthalmic investigational skills training for nurses and refractionists. A total of 14 RSCM Kirana trainees consisting of nurses and refractionists had successfully completed the pilot AOP program.
The pilot project was conducted between February to March 2023 and was completed successfully. The RSCM Kirana team invested much effort in the program planning and execution. The program content was clear and concise and translated into Bahasa Indonesia, with suggestions to set achievable learning objectives and duration for each lesson. Program delivery was good for the first time and can be improved with activities to encourage blended learning. The classroom setup and equipment were good, and technical support and translation were effective. The program was able to run smoothly, and the trainers demonstrated commitment, motivation, and enthusiasm. The program's duration of one month was ideal for a pilot program, and the students were able to grasp the skills taught. Overall, the feedback for the new learning model has been positive.
Head of Integrated Eye Service Center of RSCM, Dr. Mutmainah has shared that it is a brand new experience for nurse trainees and they were very excited to learn from different experts (even zoom lectures conducted in English language from SNEC) and shared that the trainees and faculty benefitted from this programme immensely and they could manage their work load and access training materials in LMS in the evenings to pace their learning and see the value of the training for their workforce. Dr Nina also indicated that the programme will enhance the eyecare delivery in eyecare setting in Indonesia once implemented in the coming years.
Following the pilot project, RSCM Kirana and SNEC are working towards developing the full programme, which will be offered to the entire Indonesian Allied ophthalmic personnel. This will be one of the many regional programmes SNEC will launch in the coming years.
With this training programme, it is hoped that the task-shifting approach of upskilling allied ophthalmic personnel will ease the workload of ophthalmologists, enhance the quality of eye care access to eye care, and provide efficiencies that allow providers to maximize their clinical work.
SNEC, Santen and RSCM Kirana are working in close collaboration to launch the upcoming full AOP program launch at RSCM Kirana in September 2023.
The Programme Excellence Award uniquely recognizes distinctive educational programmes in SingHealth and Duke-NUS Medical School across the various healthcare professions for applying best practices in education philosophies and following a scholarly approach. For the purpose of the award, programme excellence refers to the creation or improvement of a curriculum or pedagogy leading to high quality teaching and learning.
The Duke-NUS SNEC Basic Certificate for Ophthalmic Assistant and Technician was accorded this honorable award in 2021. In partnership with DUKE-NUS Graduate Medical School, the programme is offered since 2014 as a structured curriculum that offers training, skills development and certification for allied health professionals such as ophthalmic technicians and ophthalmic nurses.
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