World Council of Optometry Publishes First Ever Curriculum Support Documents for Optometry Programs

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LONDON—The World Council of Optometry (WCO), which represents more than 90 member organizations in 50 countries, has published its first ever curriculum support document which is now available on the WCO website. “Curricular Support Elements For An Optometry Program” has been produced by the WCO education committee in order to help schools, colleges and universities around the world who are intending to start or upgrade an optometry program and they can be used as a basis for designing their curriculum.

Fifteen elements of practice are covered in the new guide including: the patient examination, patient management, general health assessment, specialized care, and professional responsibilities. Essentially, the document covers all the competencies an optometrist needs to qualify at the highest level of international standards, the organization noted.

WCO Education Committee Chair Gerald Lowther said, “This exciting initiative was started a few years ago by former education committee chair Maurice Yap with the help Hong Kong Polytechnic University staff. It is now available for the profession to use. It is a detailed outline of topics for the highest level of optometry education which can be utilized by institutions that are developing or upgrading optometric programs as well as a guide for individual faculty members developing courses. It is readily available for members and non-members to use and will be helpful in the continued development of optometry programs worldwide.”

The promotion of high standards of education and practice by optometrists is one of the WCO’s objectives, the group said, adding that the new curriculum document is an example of how the WCO acts as a unifying voice for the profession, encouraging the launch of international projects and services that meet the needs of patients, optometrists and the ophthalmic industry. The curriculum document is available here.

In a previous announcement late last month, the WCO also noted it is entering “a new phase in its development” in that WCO and its sister organization, the World Optometry Foundation (WOF) are exploring new Secretariat arrangements after more than five years of being based at the College of Optometrists in London. The College has provided the secretariat and management services for both the WCO and the WOF. Before establishing the secretariat in London, the WCO was located at Salus University in the U.S. for 11 years.

Dr Susan Cooper, WCO president, said, “I would like to personally thank the College of Optometrists and all their staff for their very professional provision of Secretariat services for WCO over the past five years. We appreciate the significant in-kind support which has allowed WCO to expand our visibility and impact worldwide. Relocating the secretariat will be one aspect of beginning a new phase in the organization’s development. This includes continuing to facilitate and support optometric development and education globally. WCO will continue to play a key leadership role in promoting eye health and vision care development around the world in close collaboration with our members and strategic partners.”

Bryony Pawinska, chief executive of the College, added: “We have been privileged to work with WCO, helping it to increase its membership, support its governance, and extend its international reach as the voice of optometry worldwide. Following a meeting of the College Board to approve our very ambitious business plan and budget for the year ahead, the Board has come to the view that the time is now right for the baton to be handed to another organization which can provide the level of in-kind support that WCO needs to grow. The College will now work with WCO to ensure a smooth transition over the next 12 months.”

WCO said it looks forward to announcing its future Secretariat arrangements in 2014.