The College of Optometrists

Develop and maintain knowledge and skills

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Key points

  • You must keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date and this includes: the law, the GOC’s Standards of Practice, College and other guidance, developments in practice.
  • You should regularly review your work.
  • You must work within the limits of your competence.
  • You must meet the General Optical Council’s requirements for continuing education and training (CET).
  • The College encourages you to take responsibility for, and participate in, professional development beyond CET requirements.

Develop and maintain competence

You must keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date1 so you continue to practise safely.
You must keep up to date with the law, the GOC’s Standards of Practice and guidance that is relevant to your work.
You should be familiar with guidance issued by the College of Optometrists and other relevant bodies.
You should be familiar with developments that affect your work and with changes in practice, the needs of patients and eye care services.
You should take steps to monitor, reflect on, and improve the quality of your work, for example through clinical audit 2, 3 and peer review.4
If you take a break from practising for a significant amount of time, you should ensure your knowledge and skills are up to date before returning to optometric practice.

Work within your competence

You must recognise and work within the limits of your professional competence. 1
You must know the standards of competence for your job role. Where you are working beyond core competencies for an optometrist, for example, working in community services or working as an independent prescriber, you must be capable of working at that standard.
If you observe a sign or symptom which you cannot manage within your competence, you must refer the patient to a practitioner with the appropriate qualifications and registration. 5 See section on Working with colleagues.

Continuing education and training (CET)

You must meet the General Optical Council’s (GOC's) statutory continuing education and training (CET) requirement for fully qualified optometrists.
The GOC requirement for CET also applies to periods during which you are suspended from the register of optometrists. 6

Professional development

The College recommends that you tailor your professional development to your practice by including a range of relevant development activities.
Plan your professional development to tackle areas that require improvement and which help you explore new knowledge and skills. You can take advantage of unplanned or spontaneous learning opportunities, such as informal discussions with colleagues about interesting cases. You should reflect on your learning, thinking about how you will put it into practice.
Undertaking regular professional development means you can:
  1. add value to your scope of practice
  2. keep up to date
  3. develop your confidence
  4. cope with change
  5. deliver high-quality patient care, and
  6. enhance your career prospects and job satisfaction.
Professional development can include:
  1. formal and informal learning
  2. active learning, such as group work, peer review, writing and presenting
  3. distance learning, such as reading journals, online learning and listening to podcasts, and
  4. reflective activities.

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