ASCO releases report defining expected attributes of graduating OD students

January 29, 2012

The Board of Directors of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) announced a new “Attributes of Students Graduating from Schools and Colleges of Optometry” report. The updated “Attributes Report” is a series of competency statements that broadly define the attributes expected of students graduating from any of the schools or colleges of optometry in the United States.

This 2011 report updates an initial report jointly developed by the optometric community and accepted by the ASCO Board of Directors in 2000.

“This updated report reflects contemporary education and the importance of outcomes assessment,” said Jennifer L. Smythe, O.D., ASCO secretary-treasurer and member of the Attributes Report Task Force along with Kent M. Daum, O.D., Ph.D. “The focus is more on outcomes rather than traditional clock (credit) hours, the recognition that learning takes place in a variety of contexts, and ensuring systems are in place to appropriately monitor programs and student progress. What’s important to us is that new graduates understand what they are learning and demonstrate competency.”

In addition to the traditional competencies expected of graduates, the new attributes report has been expanded to include areas important to the evolving profession of optometry:

  • professional values and ethics (example: a commitment to work as an integral member of the larger interprofessional health care team to improve patient care outcomes)
  • knowledge (example: community health care resources and delivery systems to improve care)
  • skill (example: an understanding of nutritional influences on ocular physiology and systemic health and disease).

“This reflects evidence-based practice in my mind and can be used to develop curriculum,” said Dr. Smythe. “We all agreed as a body that graduates should possess these attributes, for which attitudes, knowledge and skills are prerequisite.”

As the report explained, current educational program management is evolving with improved descriptions of desired educational outcomes, enhanced mechanisms for assessing attainment of those outcomes, and expanding strategies that provide for ongoing scrutiny of individual and programmatic results while making appropriate adjustments to the outcomes and the techniques used to teach and develop them.

The report also reiterated that the schools and colleges of optometry have the responsibility to “develop curriculum and to assess and verify that each graduate has demonstrated the attributes described.”

“The revised report will be an invaluable resource for the optometric profession as a whole and the state associations in that it is a cogent and contemporary presentation of the attributes today’s graduates possess upon entering practice,” said ASCO President Kevin Alexander, O.D., Ph.D. “The latest revision of the ASCO report will serve the profession in two ways. First, the document provides the entire profession with information about how schools and colleges of optometry are preparing graduates for practice in 2012 and beyond; and, second, the report will serve to guide state associations seeking scope expansion when questions about optometric education arise.”

According to ASCO, it represents current thinking about the requisite competencies for new graduates of optometry programs and recognizes how educational program management is changing in all health care disciplines.

“The Attributes Report serves as a valuable tool for developing and revising optometric curricular outcomes and for educating the public on the full scope of optometrists’ knowledge base, skills, professional and personal attributes and competencies,” said Dr. Smythe. “The new document reflects contemporary optometric practice and includes interprofessional competencies.”

The entire Attributes Report is available in the fall 2011 issue of ASCO’s journal, Optometric Education, at www.opted.org/files/journal/OE_FALL_2011.pdf.

It is also posted on the ASCO Web site at www.opted.org.

One comment

  1. i read the reprort and its quite interesting but i believe extending your support to optometry schools in some developing countries will be very helpfull…personally im a third year O.D student in k.n.u.s.t and we lack most of the instruments that are used in training and developing the skills of optometrist. i hope asco takes this note into consideration and at least support my school with some of these instruments that are sstill functioning but not in use or better still give my department aid and also form a partnership with the ghana optometric association so that we all can help achieve vision 20/20

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