Letter from the President
This past year, optometry marked 100 years of regulation in Ontario. From the first registered optometrist, to the Optometry Act, to the ability to prescribe drugs – much has changed in a century. Throughout the changes and advancements, one aspect endured: the College’s dedication to serving the public.
2019 not only represented evolution within the profession, but also marked a year of transition for the College itself.
After eight years with Dr. Paula Garshowitz at the helm, the College welcomed new Registrar Maureen Boon in June and with whom I had the pleasure to work for several months before my own term as President concluded in December.
It was my immense privilege to serve as President, and I take great pride in the work the College Council engaged in during that time, including expanding optometrists’ drug prescribing list and working to replace this list with broader drug categories that would enable members to prescribe all approved ophthalmic topical medications; concluding a comprehensive review of the College’s Quality Assurance program and initiating evidence-based revisions to align with best practices and improve flexibility and effectiveness; approving policies and standards that allow more flexibility for practitioners providing optometric or dispensing services using the Internet; modernizing the College’s governance structure; ensuring those entering the profession are challenging high-quality, defensible standard assessment exams; and increasing support for patients who experience sexual abuse.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone I had the opportunity to work with on Council – especially our public members who volunteer their time, skills, and knowledge and bring a valuable perspective to College work.
Beyond my term as President, I have also had the opportunity to be part of numerous committees for more than a decade, including Registration, Quality Assurance, and Governance. I know first-hand the valuable contributions that committee members make and encourage optometrists to consider joining a College committee.
I wish Council and the new President Dr. Patrick Quaid much luck as they embark upon further transition at the College and prepare a new strategic plan. I also look forward to continuing my involvement in committees and College work in the coming years. Optometry has indeed come a long way in 100 years, and as the profession keeps moving forward, the College will be there to ensure Ontarians continue to have access to high-quality, competent and ethical eye and vision care.
Letter from the Registrar
I’m thrilled to have joined the College of Optometrists as it celebrated 100 years of regulation. And while it’s always fun to see how far we’ve come, we’re also keen to look forward and focus on the ways in which the College can adapt to the changing needs of the profession and the public.
The College isn’t alone in this experience. Regulation itself is undergoing a transition that is challenging regulatory colleges to remain agile and anticipate the real risks the public faces.
It’s an exciting time to be reviewing and modifying our own processes: in 2019, the College began the work of creating a new strategic plan that will be finalized in 2020 and will set a new direction for our work, which is focused on our three main responsibilities: Registration, Quality Assurance, and Investigations. That is: are optometrists qualified to join the profession? Are they maintaining those skills? And if not, how are we ensuring the public is receiving safe care?
Read on to see how we answer these questions and what we accomplished in 2019.
This past year has been a wonderful welcome as your new Registrar and I look forward to continuing the College’s work to increase responsiveness, transparency, and collaboration.
There are more than 60 committee members (both Council and non-Council) who support and facilitate the College's work. Our sincere thanks for the time, skill, and thoughtfulness they bring to their work on the following committees:
- Fitness to Practice
- Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports
- Patient Relations
- Quality Assurance
- Strategic Planning
As part of an ongoing review of the program, Council approved changes to the random selection criteria for those undergoing random assessments. To better reflect high-risk areas, the revised criteria includes a greater number of optometrists in their first five years of practice. In addition, optometrists who successfully complete the Short Record Assessment are exempt from selection for 10 years.
These changes, approved in the fall 2019, took effect January 1, 2020.
For 2019, 112 optometrists were selected for random audit and 86% received a satisfactory assessment.
Optometrists are required to have 750 hours of direct patient care in Canada every three-year period. We check patient care hours annually to ensure optometrists are meeting this requirement. In 2019, nine optometrists with insufficient patient care hours underwent practice assessment. Four received satisfactory assessments and the remaining five are still under assessment or receiving coaching.