Student Educational Background, Perceptions and Expectations Toward Optometry: An Emerging Eye Health Profession in Mozambique

Ving Fai Chan 
James Loughman 
Vanessa Raquel Moodley 
Luigi Bilotto 
Kovin Naidoo


Abstract

Background: The University of Lurio, School of Optometry in Mozambique is a new program in Africa. The school, the first to serve Portuguese-speaking Africa, can act as a template for such initiatives in other African countries and other limited-resource settings around the world. A major challenge facing such programs is the lack of knowledge about the profession, which impacts the recruitment of students and their expectations of the program. This study was conducted to understand students’ pre-enrollment educational background, perceptions and career expectations as an optometrist in Mozambique so as to inform future enrollment and other similar initiatives. Methods: First-year optometry students were asked to complete a questionnaire containing open-ended, close-ended and Likert-scale questions. Results: Respondents perceived their language literacy skills as average or good. The majority of participants acknowledged that there is lack of eyecare personnel in Mozambique and agreed that optometry training will resolve this challenge. Students retained high expectations regarding their expected salary and work placement. Conclusion: The timely understanding of the poor self-rating of the students’ English language ability, gaps in their perception of the role of optometry in Mozambique, and expectations can assist planning for student support, awareness strategies for prospective students and sustainable eye health professional training. The results from the study can be useful when setting up new professional programs in other Lusophone African countries and similar settings, with particular relevance to optometry programs. 

Key Words: competencies, expectations, optometry, education, Mozambique

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