Applicability of Entry to Practice Examinations for Optometry in Canada

Stanley Woo, OD, MS, MBA, Patricia Hrynchak, OD, MScCH(HPTE), FAAO, DipOE, Natalie Hutchings, BSc, PhD, MCOptom

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ABSTRACT – High-stakes assessments for entry-to-practice are critical tools used by the optometric profession’s regulatory bodies to assure safe, effective, and ethical practice by their respective registrants. In 2019, the College of Optometrists of Ontario approved the acceptance of the United States (US) entry-to-practice examination for optometry, the National Board Examiners in Optometry (NBEO®), as an acceptable alternative assessment for the Canadian entry-to-practice examination, the Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC). However, this decision was not unanimously supported in stakeholder feedback. In this paper, the development and structure of the two assessments are described. A global consensus framework is applied to identify the appropriateness of the assessments for Canada, and a similar change in entry-to-practice in the field of nursing is examined for contextual correlates. Although intrinsically satisfactory for their respective jurisdictions, the NBEO® does not appear to satisfy the critical criteria of validity, equivalency, and acceptability for Ontario or, more broadly, Canada. Cultural and systemic differences between the Canadian and US healthcare systems were also identified as additional barriers. Lastly, major future vulnerabilities for the profession lie in the availability of an entry-to-practice examination for both Anglophone and Francophone Canadians.

Woo, S., Hrynchak, P., & Hutchings, N. (2022). Applicability of Entry to Practice Examinations for Optometry in Canada. Canadian Journal of Optometry84(1), 33–44. Retrieved from

An article published in the Canadian Journal of Optometry (June 2018) — Download the paper

ABSTRACT – The Optometry Examining Board of Canada is a not-for-profit corporation that administers the entry-to-practice examination for optometrists in Canada in service to its members, the 10 provincial optometry regulators. The described work resulted in an updated entry-level competency profile for optometry, together with an examination blueprint based upon indicators derived from the competencies. The project took place over the period May 2014 to September 2015 and involved the following steps: establishment of project teams, clarification of conceptual framework, development of proposed competencies, validation of competencies, development of indicators for each competency, consistent with the assessment methodologies used in the entry-to-practice examination, and Construction of an updated examination blueprint.

Cane, D., Penny, M., Marini, A., & Hynes, T. (2018). Updating the Competency Profile and Examination Blueprint for Entry-Level Optometry in Canada. Canadian Journal of Optometry, 80(2), 25–34.