Continuing Education Deadline – December 31, 2018

We are probably all in agreement that staying relevant and up to date in our profession is important, but because continuing education is a mandated requirement, there seems to be a natural tendency to fight it and consider it to be unfair and unnecessary. Every December as the three-year cycle comes to an end for one of the three groups, the College receives a large volume of calls and credit submissions
to manage.   

This on its own is challenging for the staff, and we have recognized that improvements need to be made. The new continuing education program (called the Continuing Competency Program, or “CCP”) which 1/3 of registrants started this year, will alleviate much of this. It is self-reported and self-directed, allowing BC opticians the opportunity to assess their competency level and exercise professional
judgment to set goals to improve areas that could affect public safety or allow them to become very competent in specific areas of interest.   

Under the credit-based system which still applies to 2/3 of our registrants, many of the calls received by the office are questions from you about continuing education in general, how to obtain credits, and why
credits are needed at all. We are happy to field individual questions at the office as they come, but thought we would take this opportunity to address some of the most asked questions and help our registrants look at con-ed as an opportunity rather than a requirement.

Why is there a continuing education program?

The current continuing education program exists because the Health Professions Act dictates that all regulated health professionals in British Columbia are required to participate in continuing education in
order to maintain their knowledge and skills to protect the public.

Do I have to participate in the continuing education program?

The short answer is yes. The Health Professions Act dictates that all regulated health professionals must participate in a continuing competency program. The College Bylaws, section 45, outline that:

  • Registrants are not entitled to renew their registration unless they have filed with the board, together with their application, proof of having completed an approved course of continuing
  • An “approved course of continuing education” means a minimum number of hours of theoretical, practical or other instruction offered to registrants and approved by the board.

For those not on the new Continuing Competency Program yet, and who still need to collect credits, those requirements are noted on our website.

What happens if I don’t complete my con-ed on time?

If you are in the current cycle that ends on December 31, 2018, and you do not complete your continuing education requirements by that time, you will be notified in January that your credits are overdue. If they have not been received and processed by the time you renew your license in March of 2019, you will not be eligible to register for the next year. This is a new setting that will be in place for the online renewal system.

Waiting until March to submit them makes it extra challenging for staff at the office, as renewal is extremely busy and time consuming on its own, without having to review and enter past-due continuing
education credits. If you have submitted them by December 31, 2018, they will be processed and this will not hold up your renewal. If they are submitted after this date, we cannot guarantee that they will be entered prior to the start of renewal and as such, late fees or reinstatement fees may be applied. 

Can I submit courses from outside the optical industry for credit?

Not all learning has to be related specifically to the optical industry. If you have completed some type of training that relates to the Competencies for Canadian Opticians, please submit details and proof of
completion and this will certainly be reviewed and considered. Some examples may include technology updates (computer program courses), business courses, conflict management, or accounting and finance. 

What do I get out of participating in con-ed?

If you are rushing to get credits before the deadline, and/or are only taking con-ed because you found a course that offers more credits than any other, is close to home, easy, or free, all you are likely getting out of your participation is meeting the requirements to maintain your license. If you are continually learning and seeking engaging con-ed that you are interested in and makes you better equipped to do your job, you are meeting those requirements while also making yourself a more valuable asset to your company, whatever your role may be, and in turn making yourself a leading candidate for the most desirable jobs.


There is no question that if the public are to receive the best quality of care, opticians need to continue to learn, and for us, that has been mandated. It is how we embrace this requirement that determines how much value it has for us.

Continuing education helps safeguard the public, employers, professionals, and our profession as a whole, so why do some opticians feel like it is not worth investing time in? Next time you are looking at a con-ed opportunity, ask yourself; is this a topic I need to brush up on? Is this an area of practice I am interested in? Is what I am going to learn going to apply to my patients? Is there value in this con-ed for me? Continuing education is a necessity for your ongoing registration with the COBC, but for you, it is an
opportunity to add to your professional portfolio, make you a professional asset, and to provide your patients the best possible care.

If you have any questions related to the current continuing education program, or the new Continuing Competency Program, do not hesitate to contact Christopher Dodge or myself at the office.