THE USE OF RESERVED TITLES
The right to use certain names and titles is serious business, especially in the health profession. Many British Columbia professional regulations have a whole section devoted to clarifying what a professional can call themselves. This is called a reserved title.
The Health Professions Act and Opticians Regulation reserves the titles of “optician”, “dispensing optician” and “contact lens fitter” so that only registered persons with the COBC has the right to use these titles. For physicians, they can use titles of “doctor” and “physician”. For optometry, the legislation reserves the titles “optometrist” and “doctor of optometry” - but most importantly, the legislation is clear that an optometrist must not use the title of “doctor” by itself.
TIPS ON USING RESERVED TITLES OF VISION CARE PROFESSIONALS
For the public, the correct use of titles allows them to tell the difference between various professionals and their different expertise. Clients are then able to have appropriate expectations of the services they will receive.
Some members have fallen into the habit of incorrectly referring to an optometrist as “the doctor” or “the eye doctor”. This is both confusing to the public and contrary to legislation for physicians and optometrists.
Clarity is important: be sure to use the correct titles when communicating with clients.
Some examples of using reserved titles:
- When referring to a physician, make it clear: “I am making an appointment for you with a physician.” Or, “I am making an appointment for you with Dr. Smith, a physician/ophthalmologist.”
- When referring to an optometrist, the title “optometrist” must be used: “I am making an appointment for you with an optometrist.” Or, “I am making an appointment for you with Dr. Smith, an optometrist”.
YOUR TITLE AS A LICENSED OPTICIAN IS RESERVED AND PROTECTED
Correctly using reserved titles also allows clients to know they are dealing with a registered professional who has undergone the required training and is held to a high standard of practice.
The COBC protects the use of the titles under the Act. Only active registrants of the COBC can use the title “optician” and other associated terms. No other person can claim to be an “optician” or suggest that s/he is recognized by the COBC.
When a business wishes to use the title “optician” in their advertising, marketing or company name, they are only entitled to do so if there are persons working within the business who are rightly Licensed Opticians with COBC. Businesses cannot use the reserved titles for Opticianry if they do not have Licensed Opticians on staff.
PROTECT YOUR TITLE AS A LICENSED OPTICIAN
The College of Opticians of British Columbia has petitioned the Supreme Court of British Columbia for an injunction to prevent the internet sale of contact lenses by two affiliated companies, operating in British Columbia as Coastal Contacts Inc. and Clearly Contacts Ltd.
Under the laws of British Columbia, only a qualified eye care profession may fit, dispense and otherwise furnish prescription contact lenses to members of the public . By requiring a contact lens prescription, the involvement of an Licensed Optician who is also a registered contact lens fitter, and who must perform in accordance with the Professional Standards of Practice of the College, the public is assured that a professional will determine a person’s suitability for the particular contact lenses by fitting them, then dispensing them and providing any necessary advice and follow-up.
Prescription contact lenses are under no circumstances to be supplied to members of the public as if they were merely equivalent to an “over the counter” device.
One of the most important things to a Licensed Optician is your title. Correctly using the reserved title as a Licensed Optician allows clients to know they are dealing with a professional who has undergone the required training, is registered with the College and is held to a high standard of practice.
Hence Licensed Opticians should be very concerned when people who are not Licensed Opticians call themselves so because it can reflect poorly on the profession. Take pride in your title as an Licensed Optician and help maintain the profession.