DIPLOMA AND TRAINING EQUIVALENCE RECOGNITION AND LEGAL AUTHORIZATIONS TO PRACTICE

General description of the process

 

The diploma and training equivalence recognition process is the process prescribed by the Regulation respecting equivalence standards for the issue of a permit by the Ordre des optométristes du Québec for the purposes of issuing a permit to practice optometry.

 

All equivalence applications are first evaluated by the secretary of the admissions committee, who makes sure that the file is complete before forwarding it to the admissions committee for review.

 

If the file is complete, it is then forwarded to the admissions committee, which evaluates the equivalence of the diploma or training and recommends a bridging program, where appropriate.

 

Next, the admissions committee makes a recommendation to the executive committee, which renders a decision.

 

It should be noted that candidates who have graduated from universities that are not accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, which has accredited universities mainly located in Canada and the United States, are very rarely granted full equivalence for their diplomas or training. They are generally granted partial equivalence and required to complete a bridging program.

 

Finally, a special process is set out in the Regulation respecting legal authorizations to practise optometry outside Québec that give access to the permit of the Ordre des optométristes du Québec for optometrists who are already authorized to practice optometry in a different Canadian or American jurisdiction. It is an accelerated process that does not require diplomas or training to be evaluated for the purposes of establishing equivalence.

 

The process is described in the following diagram: Procedure for processing a diploma or training equivalence application (in French)

 

Conditions

 

To be recognized as equivalent, a diploma in optometry issued outside of Quebec must certify that its holder has a level of knowledge equal to the knowledge of a holder of a Quebec diploma prescribed by regulation.

 

In addition to the specific case of graduates of an institution accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, holders of a diploma in optometry issued by an educational institution located outside Quebec are granted a diploma equivalence if they have obtained this diploma after completing a university program comprising the equivalent of 197 credits, 169 of which must be apportioned as follows:

 

  1. 50 credits in biological and biomedical sciences, which must pertain specifically to human and ocular anatomy, general and ocular histology, general and ocular physiology, general and ocular pharmacology, general and ocular pathology and microbiology;
  2. 16 credits in optics, which must pertain specifically to geometric, physical and ophthalmic optics;
  3. 15 credits in vision science;
  4. 52 credits in optometric science, which must pertain specifically to general optometry, orthoptics, contact lenses and low vision;
  5. 36 credits obtained from a clinical training period, which must be completed specifically in the areas of general optometry, orthoptics, contact lenses and low vision.
  6. 1 credit obtained for preparing for and participating in a comprehensive examination.

 

Each credit represents 15 hours of attendance in class or 45 hours worked in the course of a training period. When the diploma has been obtained three or more years prior to the date of the equivalence application, it will be rejected if the acquired knowledge no longer corresponds to the current content of educational programs.

 

Candidates whose diploma cannot be recognized as equivalent may be granted a training equivalence if they demonstrate that their training allowed them to acquire knowledge and skills that are equivalent to those acquired by holders of a Quebec diploma prescribed by regulation.

 

When evaluating training equivalence, the Order takes into account the number of years of schooling, the courses taken (credits and marks obtained), the diplomas earned, training periods and other training activities, and relevant work experience. For that purpose, the committee may ask candidates to give an interview, pass an examination or complete a training period. Accordingly, depending on the diplomas and training of the candidates, they may be asked to take a placement test, whose results will be used by the committee to issue a recommendation on recognition of the requested equivalence.