COBC or OAC: Who Does What? (Part 2)
07.02.2019

Many registrants often confuse us, the College of Opticians of BC (COBC), with the Opticians Association of Canada (OAC). In order to help us understand where confusion might exist, we conducted a survey in September 2018, which consisted of two sections: We asked registrants to tell us which organization they believed provided certain services, and we also asked them who they would call in certain practice scenarios.

We had almost 240 respondents participate in the survey - most registrants appear to have a solid understanding about how the organizations differ, but the results did reveal some areas of confusion that we hope to address!

The results of the first section of the survey can be found here on our website. The results from the second section are presented below, along with the correct answers.

 

Participants were placed in different scenarios, and asked which organization they should call:

1.   A patient came into my practice to purchase eyeglasses. They handed me their prescription and it had expired a year ago. I’m unsure if I should dispense and if the prescription is still valid. For answers, I will call:

Correct answer: COBC                   95% of respondents were correct!

The COBC is responsible for enforcing specific legislation that opticians work under. These include the regulations within the Health Professions Act, the Standards of Practice, the Code of Ethics and Bylaws. As such, the COBC can provide direction, guidance, and practice advice for registrants when needed.

 

2.   My Continuing Education is due end of 2018 and I am interested in learning more about toric lenses. I need to find a course or event in the next short while to help me expand my knowledge on this topic and also complete my requirements. I will call:

Correct answer: OAC                     64% of respondents were correct!

The COBC sets the requirements for opticians to remain competent, but does not directly provide education unless it specifically relates to the functions of the COBC. Further, the COBC rarely has specific information on the courses and events being offered elsewhere. Certain sponsors and other professional opticianry organizations will offer those activities, including the OAC, who maintains an online library of approved, accredited education options available to their members.

 

3.   I am a refracting optician and contact lens fitter. My colleague disclosed to me that while I was away on vacation our manager asked them to complete an automated refraction although they are not certified to do refracting. I need to call:

Correct answer: COBC                   89% of respondents were correct!

The COBC is responsible for regulating the profession, in the interest of public safety. As such, the COBC has a process in place should members of the public or other opticians have a concern about the conduct or competence of a Licensed Optician. The COBC investigates matters of alleged professional misconduct and claims that a registrant has practiced outside of the scope of their registration category. Depending on the situation, the COBC will respond as required by legislation to determine how the matter should be resolved. The COBC does not have jurisdiction to investigate concerns about business practices, financial matters, or poor customer service unless it is indicated that it could be professional misconduct.

 

4.   I recently re-read the opticians' regulations to ensure that I was following the requirement for automated refracting. I have some thoughts on how to improve the regulations, so I will call:

Correct answer: OAC                     84% of respondents were incorrect.

This is an area where there does appear to be some confusion. The COBC is the regulatory body that has been appointed by the government to ensure public safety in opticianry in BC, and therefore does enforce the regulations. However, the OAC is the organization that advocates for opticians and the profession and is the body that would actively lobby government for changes to regulations. Government would then confirm with the COBC that they would be able to regulate any changes.

 

5.   I switched employers and my new employer does not provide liability insurance. To obtain liability insurance I can call:

Correct answer: OAC                     75% of respondents were correct!

Professional liability insurance is required by the COBC in order for an optician to obtain and maintain their licence, but the COBC itself does not provide insurance. The OAC offers its members free professional liability insurance, or registrants may purchase it from other insurance companies.

 

6.   I am interviewing people as we are looking to hire someone new for our practice that can fit contact lenses. In order to determine if the applicants are properly licensed, I will call:

Correct answer: COBC                   93% of respondents were correct!

The COBC provides licensing for qualified opticians in BC, and regulates the profession by ensuring Licensed Opticians are qualified to practice and consistently provide safe, ethical, and competent care to their patients. In BC, anyone wishing to practice opticianry, identify with the protected titles, and conduct restricted activities are required to register with the COBC. Anyone can check with the COBC to see if an optician is licensed.  

 

7.   Upon confirming my final applicant, who indicated on their resume that they are a Contact Lens Fitter and Optician, I was advised that they are not currently licensed. To conduct a “Right to Title” inspection, I will call:

Correct answer: COBC                   92% of respondents were correct!

The COBC may conduct inspections as a part of the complaint process, to determine an appropriate resolution. The COBC also conducts right-to-title inspections to ensure that only those registered with the COBC are using the protected titles of “Dispensing Optician”, “Optician”, “Contact Lens Fitter”, and any variation of those titles. These inspections could be be initiated by a member of the  public, other stakeholders,  registrants, or from the COBC itself. .

 

8.   My co-worker mentioned something to me about a news item they had heard which referenced how blue light technology devices are affecting people. I am interested in the story, so for guidance on where to find the information, I will call:

Correct answer: OAC                     77% of respondents were correct!

As part of their mission statement, the OAC aims to publish journals, reports, and other papers in support of the profession. The only news provided by the COBC relates to its own specific functions, such as communications about renewals, past due continuing education, criminal record checks, and case studies.

 

9.   I understand the importance of keeping my knowledge current, and am excited about the new Continuing Competency Program (CCP). I have some ideas for goal-setting in mind, but am hoping for some additional guidance. I will call:

Correct answer: COBC                   69% of respondents were correct!

The COBC is required to develop and administer a quality assurance program, to support and promote high practice standards amongst opticians. Licensed Opticians meet entry-to-practice competencies when they are first registered and must continue to meet various benchmarks of competence as they progress in their career, with the help of this type of programming. The CCP is the new program (which is replacing the existing credit-based program) and the COBC can provide guidance and direction to assist registrants in meeting program requirements.

 

10. I work in a collaborative practice with an Optometrist and we often talk about the similarities and differences within our practice standards. I’d love to share our ideas, so I will call:

Correct answer: COBC                   67% of respondents were correct!

The COBC has a duty to serve and protect the public interest by overseeing the conduct and competence of Licensed Opticians in BC. The COBC sets and enforces practice standards and wants to ensure that our standards are relevant to opticianry practice in BC while fulfilling our mandate to protect the public. Unlike the Opticians Regulations, which are developed by government, the Standards of Practice are created by the COBC through consultation with various experts, the public, other regulated health professions, and registrants of the COBC.

 

11. I often have patients asking me for materials about general eye health. I want to gather some resources to keep in my practice. I will call:

Correct answer: OAC                     66% of respondents were correct!

The OAC provides consumer education through postings on its website, social media channels, by responding to consumer questions, and by initiating and encouraging community outreach programs. The COBC would educate the public about the reasons to see a Licensed Optician, and what they should expect when obtaining services from a regulated health care professional.

 

Thank you to those registrants who participated in our survey! We hope that the information provided above and in our previous post helps clarify some of the differences between the COBC and the OAC.

 
Communications
Skip Navigation Links.
Popular Posts
28.07.2017 At Risk Patients: Refracting Case Study You are a refracting optician and a patient walks into your practice asking for an “eye test” and that they are seeking a pair of new eyeglasses. What do you do?
28.02.2017 Dropping Your License You are the only optician and contact lens fitter who works at Star Optical, an optical dispensary. The dispensary recently decided to stop selling contact lenses and offering contact lens fitting services. Due to this, you are wondering whether or not it would be practical to drop your license with the College of Opticians (“College”) to save some money each year.
28.12.2016 The Culture of Failure We interviewed an optician who went through the complaints process for breaching regulation. The optician was conducting services they weren’t certified to do such as sight testing and was misleading patients that they were receiving eye exams. We asked for feedback about what the optician learnt from going through the complaints process.
01.02.2018 Meet Jim - He's excited about the new continuing competency program Jim gathered his continuing education credits together in late December. A couple weeks later Jim received a confirmation email from the College, congratulating him on successfully completing his MCE cycle. He noticed that the email mentioned he would be starting the new continuing competency program in April 2018. Jim missed all the previous workshops that the College held on the new program, so he is unsure of where to get information and he’s unsure how the program will work.
22.12.2017 7 COBC 2017 Highlights What have we been up to at the COBC in 2017? find out by reading our article that features our 2017 highlights, including completing grant projects, collaborating with other provinces and protecting the right to title in B.C 
01.12.2017 What we learned about Continuing Competency Thanks to everyone who came out to our Continuing Competency Workshops in Kelowna, Richmond, Prince George, Victoria and Nanaimo.  The workshops were meant to help introduce the new program to registrants and teach them about the process. During the workshops, we learned a lot about the needs of our registrants as well.
01.05.2018 Thank you for an amazing 10 years I still remember when I started working at the College and trying to learn the ropes of professional regulation. I was looking for experience in nonprofit and law and the College was a perfect fit. I thought I wanted to go to law school but within a year of working in professional regulation I realized that I didn’t want to specialize in one area. Instead I was much more fulfilled being a generalist and having the opportunity to work on many different projects in different capacities such as board governance, relationship building, program development and evaluation, policy development, and people development. This same diversity exists in opticianry (health, business and fashion), which has made it even more enjoyable to work with all of you.
16.02.2016 Dispensing off Boxtops Case study: You are a contact lens fitter with a busy practice. Maria visited your dispensary for the first time to order a refill of her soft contact lenses. She presented you with the box top of contact lenses that she has been using for the past year. She said she liked the brand and did not have any problem using the contact lenses. She also said that she had her last eye exam 8months ago.
28.10.2016 Electronic Record Keeping Barry Allen, a licensed optician, recently switched from paper patient records to storing all his patient records electronically. He is unsure about what he needs to consider when managing patient records all electronically and how often he should back up his patient records. Barry is aware that the dispensary's computer is password protected, but the computer is getting old and Barry does not want to lose all his patient records due to a system crash. He also works with a couple other opticians. What should Barry consider?
16.01.2016 Let's Talk: the COBC wants to support your mental health On January 27, 2016 Bell Canada held its annual Let’s Talk day which aims to educate the public on mental health and raise funds for mental health support organizations and programs. Let’s Talk, built on four pillars: Anti-stigma, Care& Access, WorkplaceHealth and Research, has motivated all of us at the COBC to talk more about the mental health and well-being of our registrants.
22.07.2016 Healthy Boundaries: Where's the line? Brooke is a licensed optician. She is struggling with frustration towards a family member. One afternoon, she can't help but share her situation with Candice, an understanding patient she sees often. They live in a small community where everyone is familiar with each other.
31.03.2015 How do you want to show up? “Why should I renew? What is the College doing for me?” The College is not here to protect opticians. Instead, the College’s mandate is to protect the public by regulating opticians in BC. What I would encourage opticians to ask instead is: “How can I be a good health care professional? How can I utilize licensure as an optician?”
16.11.2016 Challenging Traditional Workplace Structure Cait Snow was adjusting a pair of eyeglasses for one of her patients when she overheard Mr. Wells, her boss, asking one of the non-licensed staff to conduct an automated refraction on another patient while he took his lunch break. Mr. Wells proceeds to go to a café a few blocks away and Cait witnesses her coworker conduct an automated refraction. What should Cait do?
28.06.2017 Forgot to renew? It Happened to You! You are a dispensing optician and contact lens fitter. You’ve just returned from an emergency trip. Your sister decided to elope and wanted you with her to witness her new marriage. In the midst of the excitement you forgot to check your emails, and the thought of renewing your licence slipped your mind. You realize it’s past the cutoff date, and your licence was suspended. What do you do?
28.12.2016 Why Educate Ray Palmer is a newer optician that was recently hired at Star Optical. His store manager, Barbara Gordon, has been impressed with how fast Ray picks up new knowledge and skills at the job. At the end of each year, Barbara meets with all of her employees to ensure that they are completing their mandatory continuing education requirements. Barbara is committed to supporting the continuous learning of all the opticians she employs.
16.02.2016 How do we use your registration fees? How does the College use your registration fees?
01.05.2018 Case Study: What if I don't want a contact lens fitting? You are a Licensed Optician and Contact Lens Fitter and you’ve been passionately fitting contact lenses and helping people access vision care for 30 years! A patient enters your practice and asks if they can get a contact lens refill, and they present you with a picture of their prescription on their phone. You search your records for their file, but cannot find any information.
16.02.2017 Register as Non-Practicing Why register as non-practicing? Changing your status to non-practicing is an easy and cost-efficient way to maintain your license. While you might betaking time off work, registering as non-practicing means that you aren’t taking time away from your profession.
22.07.2016 What happened with the Dental Surgeons? Recently, the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia (CDSBC) promoted a new regulation that aimed to ensure professional boundaries were being met for the safety of patients and registrants. The CDSBC created a policy that made it so registrants could not treat a partner or spouse. Registrants of the CDSBC quickly became frustrated with the College, as lots of them had been treating their spouses for quite some time.
16.01.2016 Out of Country Prescription - Can you fill it? Case study: You are a contact lens fitter and an automated refracting optician. Mike, a 39-year-old patient, came to your dispensary. He is visiting Vancouver for two months. He said that he needs disposable contact lenses as he did not have time to replenish his supply before he left for Vancouver. He produced a one-year-old prescription issued by an Icelandic optometrist.
16.04.2016 Assessment Records Case study: You are an automated refracting optician. You provide sight-testing services for free as long as patients purchase their eyewear from your dispensary.
16.06.2016 Transferring Records Case study: You are a contact lens fitter who owns a successful practice within a small sub-urban community. There is an optometrist, Dr. Dee, who provides eye exams at your practice. You have very good professional relations with the optometrist. The optometrist bills patients for the services she provides from your practice.
28.11.2016 Interview with Rick Molcan: Director of Professional Development Rick Molcan is an optician in British Columbia. He has worked as an optician in many other provinces including Manitoba and Alberta. He got his start in optics in Ontario. Currently, he works as the Director of Professional Development for IRIS. We reached out to Rick to ask him his thoughts on the new continuing competency program, where he sees the future of education, and how the new changes will affect opticians
01.02.2018 Get ready for the new continuing competency program Did you complete your Continuing Education cycle in 2017? Congratulations! Maintaining your skills and competence is an extremely important part of being a licensed optician, and completing your cycle requirements is a huge accomplishment!
29.09.2016 Discover our New Continuing Competency Program We've been working over the past few years on developing a new continuing competency program (CCP) to provide you the tools to plan and focus your professional growth and learning goals.
16.01.2017 Releasing records to a patient who refuses safe care Lucy Lain, a 23-year-old patient enters Kara Zorelle's Optical store. Lucy requests the release of her prescription and contact lens record despite the fact that she hasn't had her eyes checked since 2013. Kara is hesitant to release the record because she is worried that she might be liable considering Lucy plans to buy her contact lenses online without getting another eye exam.
05.04.2018 I'm Retiring! What do I do with my patient records? Congratulations! You are an optician that has passionately served many patients in your community over the course of your career and getting ready to retire this year. As you think about retiring from practice, you are wondering what to do with your patient records. You are aware that the College’s Standards of Practice require patient records to be kept for a minimum of 3 years, and it is recommended to keep them for 10 years as other health care professionals do. You realize that you can’t simply shred patient records because patients may need access to their records after your retire. What should you do?
15.07.2016 What's the problem with conflict? So we need to talk about the elephants in the room; conflicts of interest. They can be difficult to spot and overcome.
01.06.2018 A Warm Welcome to Lisa Bannerman - Registrar I would like to take this opportunity to say hello to all BC opticians and let you know how excited I am to be working for the College as the new Registrar.
01.03.2018 CCP - what to expect in March What can you expect in March 2018?
29.09.2016 Assessing Competencies Case: Cisco, a contact lens fitter, received a call from a colleague, Mike, that he saw one of Cisco's patients earlier that afternoon with contact lens-associated infiltrative keratitis. Mike told Cisco that this was the third incident this year that one of Cisco's patients had contact lens related problems and wanted to figure out how to prevent these issues in the future. Were these patients not following through on safe contact lens care or was something else the issue?
05.04.2018 Our Sincere Apologies We, The College of Opticians of British Columbia, apologize for an image published of a man holding a cigarette in our January newsletter case study. This was a publishing oversight that happened when choosing a stock photo to use with one of our articles. We realize that this photo could negatively affect the public image of the regulation of the profession, as it portrays an image of a health risk. We recognize that the photo also contradicts out College’s mandate to protect the public, and we are deeply sorry. We want to ensure that we are fostering a good relationship with registrants and stakeholders to protect the public interest.
28.10.2016 How was the new Continuing Competency Program Developed? Our new continuing competency program will help each of our registrants create a professional development roadmap to focus learning which will include
16.01.2019 Why You Should Renew Your Valued License As we start the new calendar year, our focus in the office shifts towards preparing for renewal. This is a great time to remind you why you renew your licence each year, and what can happen if you choose not to.
10.10.2018 Continuing Education Deadline - December 31, 2018 Your Registrar writes about continuing education; a reminder about why it is important, and how missing the deadlines will impact your ability to renew your license.
10.12.2018 COBC or OAC: Who Does What? (Part 1) In September, 2018, we surveyed opticians in BC about the differences between our organization, the College of Opticians of BC (COBC), and the Opticians Association of Canada (OAC). These are the results from part 1.