By Luke Arundel
National Professional Services Manager
Prior to the introduction of national registration in 2010, Optometry Australia maintained a CPD accreditation and recording program for all optometrists.
Once this component became mandatory in 2010 as part of national registration under AHPRA, Optometry Australia was asked by the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) to continue this important function at no cost to stakeholders.
After activities being submitted for accreditation more than doubled in the period following national registration, the ‘no-cost to CPD providers’ accreditation model became unsustainable for Optometry Australia.
The OBA subsequently launched an open tender process, in which a number of applicants submitted proposals based on cost recovery models to accredit CPD activities on behalf of the OBA.
With significant experience in the area and existing IT infrastructure in place, Optometry Australia was able to submit a very competitive proposal and was awarded the tender in late 2014. It was to be administered by a newly-created business unit, Eye on CPD.
If Optometry Australia had not won the tender, CPD providers would be paying an accreditation fee, presumably higher, to another organisation providing this service.
Fees charged under this cost-recovery model are used to fund Eye on CPD’s administrative and operational tasks and a new IT platform that provides up to date points information, separated into the points categories specified by the OBA.
The accreditation fee also contributes to an independent external auditor to review activities nation-wide once they have been conducted, in order to ensure that they meet the high educational standard set by the board.
The revenue generated also resources an independent assessment panel that acts as a secondary reviewer and arbiter in the handling of any complaints throughout the accreditation process.
Accredited vs non-accredited. What is the difference?
The accreditation of CPD plays a large role in effective CPD programs. Accreditation supports the regulatory framework that ensures governments and the community that systems are in place to protect the public from harm, and facilitates continued improvement in the quality of health service provision.
Accreditation also provides assurance to optometrists on educational quality and relevance to current optometric practice.
Optometrists can meet their CPD requirements by undertaking accredited or non-accredited activities, or a combination of both. One of the most significant differences is the record-keeping requirements for each type of these activities.
Requirement 6 of the OBA CPD registration standard and Table 4 of the OBA CPD guidelines specify the record-keeping requirements. Optometrists should be familiar with these as each year on renewal an optometrist is certifying that they have met the requirements as set by the OBA.
An optometrist does not need to provide these records each year at renewal but may be asked to do so in the event of an audit, or if required by the OBA in the course of investigation of a complaint.
The OBA has published a CPD record template on the ‘Continuing professional development’ section under the ‘Registration standard’ tab on the OBA website. This contains a CPD portfolio which consists of two parts.
Part 1 is a section to list learning needs and planned activities, and Part 2 is a section that covers the additional record-keeping requirements when undertaking non-accredited activities.
The first part of the portfolio is designed to encourage optometrists to identify areas of interest along with areas of knowledge for improvement.
Accredited CPD activities are those that have been assessed and approved as meeting the OBA’s ‘Criteria for CPD activity accreditation’ published in Appendix A of the Optometry Board CPD Guidelines.
A list of accredited CPD activities and associated points is frequently updated on Optometry Australia’s website.
If an optometrist undertakes an accredited CPD activity, the provider will forward the optometrist’s details to Optometry Australia to be added to member’s CPD record. This record-keeping service is a membership service of Optometry Australia and does not abrogate individual optometrists’ registration requirements.
Non-accredited CPD activities mean CPD activities that have not been accredited by the OBA.
You do not need to get prior approval from the OBA before undertaking non-accredited activities; however, you need to maintain records of any activities in accordance with the registration standard requirements.
This entails recording the date, activity, provider, CPD activity type, number of points (as self-assessed from reading the OBA CPD Guidelines document), learning need and evaluation of the activity. Proof of attendance, for example, for overseas conferences, will also be required.
Independent assessment panel and external auditor announced
The Eye on CPD team has announced the formation of an Independent CPD Assessment Panel.
This panel comprises optometrists from around the country who will provide professional expertise in the assessment of identified accreditation applications, assess complaints from delegates, and provide comment regarding CPD activities requiring review or audit.
The panel will also provide continuous monitoring of CPD activities ‘on the ground’. The inaugural panel comprises Professor Steve Vincent (QLD), Steve Zantos (NSW), James Armitage (VIC), Roman Serebrianik (VIC), Ernie Hawes (WA), Joanne Thomas (SA/ACT) and Heath Davis (TAS).
Eye on CPD is the arm of Optometry Australia responsible for accrediting CPD on behalf of the Optometry Board of Australia.
The formation of this panel is a component of the accreditation contract with OBA to ensure that CPD to meet the learning needs of Australia’s optometric workforce is being delivered to the high standards required by the OBA.
In a further development in the CPD accreditation area, the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand has been contracted to provide the role of external auditor of CPD activities.
The external auditing organisation will conduct a quality improvement and review process that includes collecting data, assessing the presentations and evaluations against the published criteria, and identifying change required.