Share options

Issues affecting professionalism

The optometry profession is going through significant change at the moment.

  • Professionalism is seen as a key to the future – the cornerstone of optometry.
  • There are concerns that tensions between professionalism and business demands will grow.
  • Joint training with ophthalmologists provides a basis for better care of patients.
  • Optometrists need greater opportunities to develop competencies to keep up with the pace of change.
  • There is a need for additional training in business and management skills.



Recommendation 1
There will need to be agreement among the key stakeholders to a shared approach to strengthening professionalism training. This will include professional bodies, the regulator, employers and the universities. It is essential that this work is reflected in the revised GOC professionalism standards and aligns with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s benchmark statements for optometry degrees.

Recommendation 2
Universities should make use of the research outcomes to review how professionalism training could be strengthened within optometry degrees. The OSC could provide a focus for identifying good practice and improving consistency.

Recommendation 3
The College of Optometrists should continue to encourage discussion on professionalism through disseminating the research outcomes, making use of the forums and events at its disposal. The College should also continue to develop ethical scenarios, case studies and other learning resources which focus on professionalism and judgement, including pre-registration training. This work would also support the Guidance for professional practice.

Recommendation 4
The College should encourage further research into professionalism within pre-registration training, using the current research outcomes as a starting point. More widely, there would also be benefits to exploring the integration of professionalism training with CET, CPD and higher degrees. This research would help to identify gaps and pinpoint ways to strengthen training.



Professionalism in optometry was produced in collaboration with the General Optical Council, Optometry Schools Council and employers, with the aim of establishing a common understanding of key issues relating to development of teaching and assessing professionalism at all stages of optometric training.

The project explored a number of important questions:

  • What is professionalism?
  • Which issues have affected its introduction in other clinical areas?
  • What will be the most effective ways to introduce it at all stages of optometric training?
  • What are the barriers to its introduction?
  • What is the scope for interprofessional training on professionalism?
  • How is it possible to assess professionalism?