Functional standards and expectations

We expect that admitted students will be able to meet all of the functional standards for optometric education established by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry. These standards require that students possess appropriate abilities in the following areas.

The student must be able to acquire a defined level of knowledge as presented through lectures, laboratories, patient interaction, and self-study. Acquiring this body of information necessitates the functional use of visual, auditory, and somatic sensation enhanced by the use of other sensory modalities. Examples of these observational skills in which accurate information needs to be extracted in an efficient manner include:

  • Visual abilities (as they relate to such things as visual acuity, color vision, and binocularity)
  • Visualizing and reading information from papers, films, slides, video, and computer displays
  • Observing optical, anatomic, physiologic, and pharmacologic demonstrations and experiments
  • Discriminating microscopic images of tissue and microorganisms
  • Observing a patient and noting nonverbal signs
  • Discriminating numbers, images, and patterns associated with diagnostic tests and instruments
  • Visualizing specific ocular tissues in order to discern three-dimensional relationships, depth, and color changes

  • Understanding verbal presentations in lecture, laboratory, and patient settings
  • Recognizing and interpreting various sounds associated with laboratory experiments as well as diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

  • Palpating the eye and related areas to determine the integrity of the underlying structures
  • Palpating and feeling certain cardiovascular pulses

Students must be able to communicate effectively, efficiently, and sensitively with patients and their families, peers, staff, clinic faculty, and other members of the health care team. The student must be able to demonstrate established communication skills using traditional and alternative means. Examples of required communications skills include:

  • Relating effectively and sensitively to patients, conveying compassion and empathy
  • Perceiving verbal and nonverbal communication such as sadness, worry, agitation, and lack of comprehension from patients
  • Eliciting information from patients and observing changes in mood and activity
  • Communicating quickly, effectively, and efficiently in oral and written English with patients and other members of the health care team
  • Reading and legibly recording observations, test results, and management plans accurately
  • Completing assignments, patient records, and correspondence accurately and in a timely manner

Students must possess the sensory and motor skills necessary to perform an eye examination, including emergency care. In general, this requires sufficient exteroception sense (touch, pain, temperature), proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibratory), and fine motor function (significant coordination and manual dexterity using arms, wrists, hands, and fingers). Examples of skills required include:

  • Instillation of ocular pharmaceutical agents
  • Insertion, removal, and manipulation of contact lenses
  • Assessment of blood pressure and pulse
  • Removal of foreign objects from the cornea
  • Simultaneous manipulation of lenses, instruments, and therapeutic agents and devices
  • Reasonable facility of movement

Problem solving, a most critical skill, is essential for optometric students and must be performed quickly, especially in emergency situations. In order to be an effective problem solver, the student must be able to accurately and efficiently use such abilities as measurement, calculation, and reasoning; analysis; judgment; investigation; memory; numerical reasoning; and synthesis. Examples of these abilities include being able to:

  • Determine appropriate questions to be asked and clinical tests to be performed
  • Identify and analyze significant findings from history, examination, and other test data
  • Demonstrate good judgment and provide a reasonable assessment, diagnosis, and management of patients
  • Retain, recall, and obtain information in an efficient manner
  • Identify and communicate the limits of one’s knowledge and skill

The student must possess the necessary behavioral and social attributes for the study and practice of optometry. Examples of such attributes include:

  • Satisfactory emotional health required for full utilization of one’s intellectual ability
  • High ethical standards and integrity
  • An empathy with patients and concern for their welfare
  • Commitment to the optometric profession and its standards
  • Effective interpersonal relationships with patients, peers, and instructors
  • Professional demeanor
  • Effective functioning under varying degrees of stress and workload
  • Adaptability to changing environments and uncertainties inherent in patient care
  • Positive acceptance of suggestions and constructive criticism

See how we’re shaping the future of eye care.