Strengthening Saudi Arabian Optometrists’ Clinical Skills

For nine weeks from June to August this summer, Salus University hosted eight students from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia. Salus has partnered with Qassim University during the past three years to provide lectures, seminars and controlled patient care experiences for the students who are completing their one-year internship after graduating with their Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from Qassim. The students learned more in-depth about certain aspects of optometry such as low vision, binocular vision, glaucoma  and posterior and anterior segment. 
 
The patient care experiences were a key aspect in the development and strengthening of the students’ clinical skills, according to Mohammed Alsaab, Qassim University student.
 
Qassim University OD“We know how to do a lot of things, but we were not as confident about our clinical skills,” said Alsaab. “I became more confident when I was able to practice certain techniques on 20 patients or more.”
 
Classmate Abdullah Alkhudhayr believes the experience at Salus will help bring more expansive knowledge to Saudi Arabia’s growing optometry field.
 
“We will expand and relate our new knowledge to our friends and colleagues to be more proficient as optometrists,” he said.
 
Qassim University is one of only two schools of optometry that offer the OD degree in country of Saudi Arabia. The scope of practice for optometrists in Saudi Arabia is much different than in the U.S. as the OD degree was only introduced a few years ago. As a result, there are not many practicing optometrists in Saudi Arabia.
 
“It is a huge difference, because we only got our OD degree about 10 years ago so
there are not many graduates,” Alkhudhayr said. “We are trying to make a difference in Saudi Arabia, and we appreciate the help we get from Salus University. We learn a lot and it is good to see optometrists here unlike home where we cannot see them as frequently.”