Blackboard with question marks and thinking woman

By now you’ve surely heard about the new Quality Assurance (Continuing Competence) program that will be implemented in the next 3-year Con-Ed cycle. The new program requirements align more specifically with the national competencies for opticians, and an assessment test will help you identify areas where you can focus your learning.

As with any major change, there is bound to be a learning curve; we’ve put together some frequently asked questions about the new program below. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact the college; we’re here to help! Your questions may be used anonymously in future communications to help everyone understand this new system. Let’s dive in!

What is it?

The new Continuing Competence Program (CCP), administered by the Alberta College and Association of Opticians (ACAO), is required to be completed by all registrants. It is a quality assurance tool that supports registrants in their professional development, to ensure they maintain a level of quality practice throughout their careers. The program includes a method of competency assessment and enables registrants to enhance competence within the context of their practice.

Why the change? Where did it come from?

The ACAO gathered feedback from opticians about the existing continuing education program over many years to understand what needed to be changed. While a credit-based program focused on the completion of certain activities, it did not always equate to learning and development. In collaboration with other regulators and opticians across Canada, this new program was developed to focus more on helping opticians continue their competency.

When can I start the new CCP? Do I still have to complete my current credit cycle?

The new CCP program begins at the end of June 2020 and will run in 3-year cycles just as the old program did. You will need to complete your current cycle by June 30th, 2020. Once the current cycle has been completed, you will start the new program for your next 3-year cycle.

Can I end the current cycle early so I can start on the new CCP? I don’t want to continue acquiring credits.

No, our new program begins at the same time for everyone. However, carry-over credits will not apply because of the focused nature of the new program, so if you have met your credit goal for this cycle, you do not need to continue acquiring credits for next cycle. You may still, of course, participate in continuing education opportunities for your own benefit.

What is the assessment?

The assessment is a tool to gauge your current level of competence in the different areas you practice, to determine where you might need to focus your development. There are separate assessments for core, eyeglasses, contact lenses, and refracting. You will take the assessments that are applicable to your license.

Do I need to study for the assessment?

No, the assessment gauges your current level of competence. For everyone there will likely be areas in which you excel and areas where you could improve, depending on what skills you are using in your daily practice. You do not need to study, as it is meant to be a tool to help you identify areas that could be improved.

Can I fail the assessment? If so, will I lose my license?

No, you cannot fail the assessment. Although it is timed and uses multiple-choice questions, it is not an exam and you cannot pass or fail. No matter what the results, you cannot lose your license over it. The point of the assessment is to alert you to areas that you should focus on when you’re building your 3-year plan; it is not meant to be punitive.

Do I still have to complete the program if I’m non-practicing?

Yes. Just as before, both practicing and non-practicing registrants will need to complete the requirements of the education program. Non-practicing status is designed for registrants who are temporarily not working as an optician, but who plan to return to practice. These opticians must maintain the same requirements as those who are practicing, to ensure that their skills and knowledge will be current when they return to practice.

Will the same accredited activities still be available for me to get credits even though there is now a different program?

Yes. Although the program is changing, many of the available opportunities for education will remain the same. with the new competency-based cycle you will find activities have competencies assigned to them, which will help you focus your learning. Additionally, you will have the freedom to find your own activities and incorporate them into your plan as you wish.

Is there a cost?

No, opticians do not have to pay the college anything for the assessment or use of the program. However, activities you may choose to do as a part of your learning plan, such as courses or seminars, may have a cost, just as before.

Do I have to use a computer to work on and complete the program?

Yes. While the program has been created to be as simple as possible, we do understand that everyone has differing levels of comfort with technology and computers. We are happy to provide as much help as needed for any registrant who requests it.