My name is Derick Summers and I’ve been a Licensed Optician for over twenty years now. Over these years I’ve seen my fair share of changes to this amazing industry of ours. I think one of the most positive changes I’ve had the good fortune to witness is the paradigm shift at the College, moving from a very prescriptive approach of setting out every detail of our requirements to an approach that trusts and empowers registrants to make professional choices. Simply put, an opportunity for us – the professionals – to decide what we need to grow our careers and be better at what we do. In the spirit of this new philosophy, the Professional Portfolio was born.
Yes, it’s had its growing pains and yes it’s still evolving – the best documents do. But, it represents a fundamental change in how we obtain our continuing education and how we serve the public. A significant portion of our Continuing Education, which is a mandated requirement in the Regulated Health Professions Act, is now being left to the discretion of the professional. Yes, there are still specific requirements for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and refracting in order to ensure all professionals maintain a base level of knowledge to support our dual licenses. But a full quarter of the requirements focus on self-directed education. Simply put, what do we think we need to be better at what we do, all that is asked is a rationale as to why and what we’ve learned from the options we choose. Let the professionals be the professionals indeed.
In addition to the industry specific and self-directed components of the portfolio there is also the Professional Growth aspect. Developed as a response to feedback from both opticians and continuing education providers, the College’s thought with this category is two fold; the first to offer a more structured approach to professional development. With so many opticians looking for the same things, why not allow the continuing education providers to offer them as accredited options. The second is to recognize the value and importance of things like Jurisprudence and Record Keeping, and encourage all Opticians to keep up to date with such things. The professional growth category allows a place for all this to happen.
The Professional Portfolio is a living document that every Optician is required to complete. It is innovative and revolutionary and other Health Care Professions are looking to it as a model for their own industries. For Opticians, it is a valuable tool that encourages us to become better – better at how we work and better at how we serve the public. It represents an industry that understands what it means to be a Self-Regulated Profession, an industry that takes that trust seriously. Upon reflection, I think you will agree, that being treated as the professional you trained to be is a very good thing indeed.
Derick Summers, RO