New Core Competencies Recommended for Optometry Students in Spain

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Optometry students in Spain may benefit from curriculum revisions, including a focus on communication, professional skills and conduct, and developing business skills, a study suggests.

Curriculum revisions are advised for optometry schools in Spain, particularly in regards to establishing a business competency requirement, according to a study published in Journal of Optometry. 

Researchers conducted a 3-round Delphi study consisting of 116 participants grouped into 7 panels. Most participants were optometrists except for 1 panel consisting of non-optometrist faculty members (n=18), and 1 panel consisting of optometry students (n=22). Professional competencies were identified in round 1, while the consensus and stability of those competencies were established in rounds 2 and 3. 

After 1 round, 105 items relating to optometric competency were developed. Researchers grouped them into 6 categories. Among the categories, 4 were conceptually similar to the current curriculum. This included core competencies, competencies in anatomy, physiology, eye pathology, and ophthalmology, optics competencies, and competencies in optometry and contactology. Panelists also added 2 new categories consisting of competencies in communication, personal skills and professional conduct, and a business competency. The items were reduced to 56 in the subsequent rounds. 

Researchers highlight the necessity of adding a business component to the curriculum: “The demand for this kind of [competency] is quite logical, considering that 70% of optometrists practice their profession as employees and a further 15-17% of them create their own business, which means that 85-87% of optometrists practice in a small or medium-sized enterprise.” 

Areas of consensus included detecting and measuring refractive error via subjective methods, biomicroscopy, and knowledge of human biology which includes histology, anatomy, and physiology (coefficients of variation (CV)= 9%, 9%, and 18%, respectively). Areas lacking consensus among participants included physics, chemistry, biochemistry, and math (CV=30%), public health and healthcare management (CV=29%) and English and computer science (CV=25%).  

Study limitations include an uneven distribution of panel members and possible bias in the responses of faculty members. 


Rodriguez-Zarzuelo G, Gómez-Niño A, Martín-Herranz R. A Delphi study to identify and assess professional competencies in the education of optometrists. J Optom. Published online January 18, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.optom.2021.12.005