Note: Detail regarding the general abilities, competencies and the associated elements required of optometrists is contained within the Guide to the CACO and the Competency-Based Performance Standards report.
Competence has been defined as the ability to perform the responsibilities required of professionals to the standards necessary for safe and effective practice.1 Competence in optometry and the required performance standards are articulated on behalf of the profession corporately in Canada on a continuous basis by way of the Competence Committee of CEO. The Competence Committee utilizes a broadly based consultative process involving practicing optometrists, associations of optometrists, academics, experts and regulators. The open and collaborative nature of this process enhances the validity of the claim that the measure of professional competence in optometry in Canada is established by the profession at large.
The Competence Committee has identified four main responsibilities in optometric practice. The format used to express these responsibilities is consistent with both the ongoing competence-related work of the World Council of Optometry and the competence definitions of many health care professions world Wide.23456
The four competencies identified by the Competence Committee are:
Competency #1: Provide Vision and Eye Care Provision
Optometrists use their knowledge, skill and judgement to meet their patients’ eye and vision related needs with the objectives of achieving appropriate outcomes and maintaining or improving the quality of life of their patients.
Competency #2: Patient Referral
Optometrists refer patients as necessary to meet patients’ vision and health related needs.
Competency #3: Education
Optometrists provide education on eye and vision health with the goal of encouraging healthy living and appropriate effective eye and vision care. They are able to educate groups or individuals in settings other than the patient-practitioner relationship.
Competency #4: Practice Management
Optometrists apply management skills to optimize patient care and make efficient use of health resources.
It is recognized that fulfillment of these professional responsibilities is a complex task that requires an in-depth, well integrated, unique knowledge base upon which all competent decisions and performance of procedures are based. Practised facility of performance of professional procedures is also required for competence. In addition, underlying all competent performance are the more general abilities which allow optometrists to, for example, effectively communicate and make timely, rational, ethical decisions. Unlike the professional responsibilities, these general abilities are not unique to optometrists: they are required by many health care providers when fulfilling their professional responsibilities. They are also commonly associated with the goals of higher education as they underlie thoughtful, ethical actions within society. The general abilities that have been determined to be required for the competent performance of optometrist's professional responsibilities have been adopted from those required of other health care professionals as follows.7
Knowledge and reasoning abilities
Optometrists have knowledge and comprehension of the core information associated with their profession. They are able to utilize the principles of scientific inquiry and analytical, clear and critical thinking while solving problems and making decisions during daily practice. They are able to systematically observe, find, analyze, evaluate and apply information and are able to make informed defensible decisions.
Optometrists have effective planning abilities including time management, resource management, delegation skills and organizational skills. Optometrists have the necessary skills to plan and implement change, to understand and consider the human reaction to change, and to recognize when change is required for fulfillment of professional and societal responsibilities.
Optometrists have effective communication skills, including the ability to effectively use and respond to written, verbal and non-verbal communications.
Values and ethical principles
Optometrists are able to apply ethical principles in professional and social contexts. They will have developed a behaviour that recognizes and respects cultural and personal variability in values, communication and life styles. Optometrists will apply ethical principles when decision-making and will take responsibility for outcomes associated with their decisions.
Self-directed learning abilities
Optometrists have self-directed learning capabilities in order to maintain and advance their practice and professional role in society. They will be able to effectively self assess and use feedback from others to identify their learning needs and to satisfy these needs on an ongoing basis.
Detail regarding the general abilities, competencies and the associated elements required of optometrists is contained within the Guide to the CACO and the Competency-Based Performance Standards report of the Working Group of the Competence Committee.
Features of Quality Practice of Optometry in Canada provides a description of the scope of practice of optometry in Canada and the features of quality practice based on a project commissioned by the Canadian Optometric Regulatory Authorities (CORA).
- Adapted from Gonczi, A., Hager, P, Oliver, L. Establishing Competency-based Standards in the Professions. Research Paper No. 1. National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service (1990).
- World Council of Optometry, www.worldoptometry.org
- Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada. Educational Outcomes Required of Pharmacy Graduates in Canada and associated ranges and levels of performance. AFPC. (1999).
- National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities. Competency-based Standards of Practice Required of Canadian Pharmacists. NAPRA. (2002).
- Hays, R., Miller, G., Booth, B., Harris, B., Harris, J., Stirton, F. The development of general practice standards in Australia. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Medical Education. 1998;32(2): 199-204.
- Adopted, with permission, from the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC). Educational Outcomes Required of Pharmacy Graduates in Canada and associated ranges and levels of performance. AFPC. (1999). The AFPC publication incorporated work by the
a. American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Centre for Advancement
of Pharmaceutical Education. Educational Outcomes. Alexandria, Virginia:
AACP. (1998), and
b. Wolf, H.H., Walton, C.A., Hepler, C.D., Koda-Kimble, M.A. Knapp, D.A.,
Miller, K.W., Nahata, M.C., Rutledge, C.O., Smith, W.E., Vandel, J.H.
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Commission to implement
change in pharmaceutical education: entry-level education in pharmacy:
a commitment to change. AACP News Special Report (1991).