ACO Continuing Competence Program

The Alberta College of Optometrists (ACO) Continuing Competence Program was originally conceived in 1985 and updated in 2015. It is structured on a revolutionary new approach to measure, assess and enhance the knowledge, skill and judgment of Regulated Members. It has been validated, expanded and upgraded on a regular basis ever since we were one of the first professions to conduct on-site practice reviews. Currently, Doctors of Optometry are required to:

  • Practice a minimum of 750 hours in each three-year competency period to maintain their current skill sets and knowledge of the ACO Standards of Practice.
  • Accumulate a minimum of 150 Continuing Education credits in each three-year competency period
  • Participate in an on-site Practice Review on a regular basis. These reviews utilize a variety of tools and assessment techniques to assess the current competence, skill set, standard of patient care provided, the variety and scope of services provided, professional instrumentation, infection control and sterilization protocols, patient record maintenance, privacy protocols, and staff responsibilities at that office.

While the purpose of the ACO Continuing Competence Program is to measure, assess and enhance the knowledge, skill and judgment of practising optometrists, the goal is to protect and serve the public interest by reaffirming that all regulated members practice in a safe and competent manner.

Since its inception, the program has proven to be a valid and reliable means of assessing competence. Our Regulated Members appreciate the feedback that allows them to identify priorities for professional development. They also appreciate feedback on required changes to their professional practice that will improve the level of health care provided to their patients which eventually results in improved patient outcomes.

On-Site Practice Review Details:

  • Participation in the ACO Continuing Competence Program is mandatory. All newly registered practitioners are required to participate in their first on-site practice review within one year of their initial registration with the Alberta College of Optometrists. Thereafter, they are required to participate every four to five years – unless previous reviews dictate reviews on a more frequent basis.
  • All Practice Visits are conducted at no charge to the government or the general public. All costs are covered within the ACO Yearly Budget.
  • Members who fail a practice review are informed of their deficiencies and granted 180 days to change these deficiencies before participating in another follow-up review. If the member fails the 180-day follow-up review, they are referred immediately to the ACO Complaints Director for further action.

Continuing Competence Program Purpose

The purpose of the ACO Continuing Competence Program is:

  • To measure, assess and enhance the knowledge, skill and judgment of practicing optometrists;
  • To ensure each practitioner meets the prevailing ACO Standards of Practice, Guidelines to the ACO Standards of Practice, ACO Clinical Practice Guidelines and ACO Advisories required to provide appropriate vision care to each patient; and,
  • To set an expectation that each member will practice in accordance with the ACO Code of Ethics.

Continuing Competence Program Criteria

The program is designed to work within the following criteria:

  • To be effective, valid, accurate, honest and fair;
  • To be reliable, accountable and measurable;
  • To be flexible and non-threatening; and,
  • To be educational and contemporary.

Continuing Competence Program Appeals

The following appeals are allowed:

  • If a member is aware or perceives a conflict of interest with the assignment of a specific reviewer for the purpose of a Practice Visit, that Regulated Member may appeal the appointment to the Chair of the ACO Competence Committee (along with their reasons) and request that a different reviewer be appointed. The Chair of the committee is granted sole responsibility to rule on the conflict and assign a new reviewer.
  • Regulated Members are permitted to challenge the manner in which a Practice Visit was conducted. These appeals are heard by the ACO Council.
  • Regulated Members are permitted to challenge the decision of the ACO Competence Committee. These appeals are heard by the ACO Council.