What is it?
The Health Professions Act requires each Health Regulatory Organization to assure that their profession meets quality standards by administering a Continuing Education program. Therefore, Continuing Education (CE) is required for all members of the ACAO, including both practicing and non-practicing registrants.
Do I have to do it?
Yes. We require all members to complete continuing education (CE) credits in order to renew their license at the end of each three year Con-Ed cycle. In order to register, you must complete your continuing education.
It’s for you…
The health care field is constantly changing, with new technology and research emerging all the time. Consequently, opticians need to be aware of new techniques, information, and emerging technology that may impact eye care or the services they offer.
For the public…
In addition, the public has a right to expect that registered health professionals continually demonstrate proficiency in the field. They expect that you are not relying on outdated knowledge or techniques, and that they are getting the best care possible. The public rightfully expects the ACAO to ensure all registrants are up-to-date.
And for the government…
The government also expects that opticians will continue to have access to emerging data and technology. The ACAO is required to make registration renewal contingent on the completion of new educational requirements.
We have a three part program to assure competence…
The ACAO has initiated a three part program of quality assurance to help opticians complete the continuing competency mandate:
1) Continuing Education Credits
We require each optician to complete a number of continuing education credits within a thirty-six month period (three year Con-Ed cycle). However, the number of credits varies for Registered Opticians, Registered Contact Lens Practitioners, and any future specializations.
Several years ago, the ACAO initiated a continuing competency program self-assessment. This is no longer mandatory under the ACAO, however we encourage opticians to assess their practice from time to time.
3) Practice Review
The ACAO has begun conducting Practice Reviews. Consequently, on a random rotation, ACAO auditors will visit opticians’ practices to make sure that they are upholding the standards. The visit is informal, and usually consists of a review of client files, the equipment in the office, and the hygienic control of the space. The review’s purpose is to ensure that opticians remember their obligations to the public. We do not consider this a disciplinary action.
If we select you for a Practice Review, take the opportunity to get your questions answered; you may also want to ask the inspector for advice on areas of concern. Remember, ultimately Assessors have the right to inspect all patient records, equipment, and materials you use; so you should not obstruct them. However, if you believe that your rights are being overridden, the inspector will usually make an appointment for another day and suggest that you seek legal advice before his/her return.
For the opticians with specialized certification, the Con-Ed requirements are more…
Many opticians are working towards advanced practice training. The ACAO recognizes the high level of skill of all opticians, and particularly those that have contact lens certification. The ACAO anticipates that in the future more registrants will also be certified as Refracting Opticians, Low Vision Specialists, and others. With more complex levels of practice comes an added responsibility to maintain competency. Therefore, those with extra qualifications will need to complete additional continuing education in those fields. In short, those with advanced practice certification must gain a few more credits than those with a standard dispensing certification.
There are many opportunities to get your continuing competency requirements…
The ACAO offers many opportunities for you to meet your requirements. For example, we hold seminars and symposiums. We also have volunteer opportunities, as well as courses you can take every cycle for credits. Our Infection Control and mandatory Code of Conduct course, for instance, are both great ways to get your Con-Ed credits. You can also get credits from online courses run by Seiko Eyewear and the OAC.
Every so often, we will update you about new Con-Ed opportunities through the e-newsletter and the Eighth Line Newsletter. We will also share updates on the webpage, and social media.
For a limited time, you can get 1 EC credit for participating in our Continuing Competence and Scope of Practice Survey.
If you have questions or concerns about Continuing Education, please contact the college office.
Each kind of optician needs different credits…
- Eyeglass: 20 credits with a maximum carry-over of 5 (and a maximum of 5 Volunteer credits).
- Contact Lens: 35 credits, where 15 must be CL and 20 can be a combination of EG and EC (with a maximum of 5 Volunteer credits).
- Provisional Optician: you do not need to get any credits at this time.
- Provisional Contact Lens Practitioner: 20 credits for your eyeglass license.
- Non-Practicing: You are required to have the mandatory credits by the end of the current Cycle for either EG or CL.