Elevating the optometric profession with new Advanced Procedures Program

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

As the contemporary practice of optometry evolves, the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science (UWOVS) continues to be at the forefront of education for all Canadian optometrists with the introduction of a new Advanced Procedures Program.

Dr. C. Lisa Prokopich instructs participants on laser peripheral iridotomy

Instructor Dr. C. Lisa Prokopich (left) instructs participants on laser peripheral iridotomy techniques

Led by faculty members Drs. Sarah MacIver and C. Lisa Prokopich, UWOVS’ certificate program is a uniquely Canadian training opportunity designed for Doctors of Optometry to enhance their knowledge and skills to North America’s highest scope of optometric practice. Over the course of four weeks, optometrists participated in a robust 36-hour program - including the completion of virtual self-study modules, didactic lectures, and a series of in-person workshops.

"We are pleased to serve as a contemporary resource for optometric professional development in Canada and are even more thrilled to now offer a Canadian designed advanced procedures program,” says Dr. MacIver. “We’re looking forward to running this program twice annually, and hope optometrists recognize the value this program can offer them in their practices now and in the future.”

On April 8-10, the School of Optometry & Vision Science capped off its inaugural offering of the Advanced Procedures Certificate Program with an on-campus weekend of in-person instruction and hands-on workshops. During the three-day weekend, over thirty Canadian optometrists learned about and practiced laser treatment for anterior segment disease, and the fundamentals of minor ophthalmic procedures – including eyelid lesion management, intravenous and intramuscular injection techniques, and suturing.

Self-study modules, didactic lectures and in-person workshops were taught by Northeastern State University’s Dr. Richard Castillo, UWOVS Drs. MacIver, Andre Stanberry, Nadine Furtado, and C. Lisa Prokopich, and visiting clinical optometrists Drs. Sophia Leung, Martin McDowell, Josh Smith, and Rachel Amaral.

Dr. Richard Castillo instructs participants on radiosurgical techniques

Instructor Dr. Richard Castillo (middle) offers instruction on radiosurgical techniques

Dr. Bronwyn Mulherin, a practicing optometrist in New Brunswick and inaugural program participant, recommends this program to all Canadian optometrists – regardless of whether these skills are included in their respective provincial scope of practice. “UWaterloo’s teaching team, organizational team, facilities, and equipment throughout the program were all top-notch. It might seem intimidating to take courses on these advanced practice topics, but it is well within our abilities as optometrists - and the pre-study modules prepare you well for the hands-on workshops,” she says. “I feel much more confident in my advanced skills and realize I am capable of so much more as a practitioner.”

As Dr. MacIver prepares for the next Advanced Procedures program set to be in the fall, she believes keeping up with the latest trends in North American optometry will be crucial for preparing Canadian optometrists to continue delivering contemporary patient-centred care.

“Our goal is to continually evolve our program to ensure we’re delivering an evidenced-informed program with exposure to the latest instrumentation and techniques,” says Dr. MacIver.

As the demand for treatment and management of eye disease increases with an aging population, it is critical for optometry as a primary care health profession to continue to improve access to care and expand the scope of practice. With more optometrists trained in advanced procedures, our profession will be better positioned to meet this need."

The Advanced Procedures Program is accredited by the Council on Optometric Practioner Education (COPE) and endorsed by the Alberta College of Optometrists and Optometry Association of Louisana. UWOVS is pleased to be ramping up our offerings of continuing education programs, including certifications courses for glaucoma, oral TPAs and lab testing.

For more information on all of UWOVS' continuing education programs, please visit our website.