Optometry CUrriculum for Lifelong Learning through ErasmUS (OCULUS):
Year one results of benchmarking towards the European Diploma in Optometry in educations given in Israel and India.
WHO has estimated that 285 million people worldwide have visual impairment of which 80% are preventable or curable (Universal Eye Health – A global action plan 2014–2019). At least 40% of these could recover good eyesight if provided with refractive services. In an increasing number of countries, optometrists are easy-access eye health providers and often the first point of contact for persons with vision problems. There is however a wide variability in knowledge and skills of optometrists between countries, partly because of non-standardized curricula. The European Diploma in Optometry, accredited by the European Council of Optometry and Optics (ECOO), proposes a curriculum and set of competencies describing an optometrist at level three in WCO’s Global Competency-Based Model of Scope of Practice. In addition to optical technology and visual function services, this level includes ocular diagnostic services aided by diagnostic
drugs to detect and manage disease.
The overall goal of this three-year project is to harmonize optometry education by benchmarking the education provided in Israel and in three universities in India towards the European Diploma. Harmonised education will promote student mobility and enhance training of future eye-care practitioners. Reaching the level of the European Diploma has the potential to facilitate an increased scope of practice for optometrists in these countries, ultimately improving patient care. Methodology Two Higher educational Institutes (HEI) in Israel and three in India reviewed
their curricula using the European Diploma self-assessment document to identify gaps in the curricula. Parallel to this process, a digital pilot self-assessment form was developed to facilitate the assessment. Four optometric HEIs in England, Spain, the Netherlands and Norway mentored the process as well as working on their own accreditation processes.
In the first year of the project, benchmarking of six HEI curricula was completed. Representatives for ECOO’s accreditation panel visited the departments, reviewed the self-assessment forms, toured the departments and provided practical advice to filling gaps in the curriculum. Through an assisted mentoring process, the Israeli and Indian partners prepared a roadmap to address gaps and developed pedagogical transformation plans to close the gaps. The digital self-assessment form was piloted and found to be easier and more flexible than the initial version. The first year of the project has shown that mentorship and international collaboration can facilitate the process of benchmarking towards the European Diploma. OCULUS will share best practices and provide guidelines for other optometry educators.