1. Do I have to become a Fellow before applying to become a Specialist?

Yes, you must complete the requirements to earn your Fellowship designation before applying for your Specialist designation. The Fellowship designation is considered a “stepping stone” towards earning your Specialist designation.

2. I did not complete a residency – can I still become a Fellow or a Specialist?

Yes, you can. The completion of an Optometry Residency Program is only one of the possible ways to earn points towards the designation of a Fellow or Specialist. Please refer to the Fellowship and Specialist requirement pages for full details on all the other possible ways of earning points towards either of these designations.

3. I’m still in optometry school – can I still join CCSO?

Yes, you can. The CCSO offers a free membership to all students currently registered in an optometry program in Canada or the United States. Although, the title of CCSO Fellow and Specialist is reserved for individuals who have graduated and met the rigorous registration requirements, becoming a student member allows you to interact with your fellow colleagues and reap the benefits of membership while still completing your studies.

4. I’m currently in the middle of completing a Residency – can I apply for the Fellowship or Specialist designation?

Yes, you can. As you have graduated from optometry school, you are able to submit the application form and required activities while still completing your residency.

5. Is the Fellowship and Specialty designations only for academics?

No, the Fellowship and Specialist designations are equally open to private practitioners, researchers or academics. The CCSO Board of Directors has created a multitude of different ways of earning points towards the Fellow or Specialist title that cater equally to all individuals.

6. I am not an optometrist. Can I still apply for the CCSO Fellowship and Specialist designations?

Yes you can. Although, the vast majority of CCSO registrants will be optometrists, individuals involved in areas that cross over to vision care are also encouraged to join. This could be in relation to team-based patient care (for all health care practitioners) or academia and research activities in cross-over areas.

7. I’m a private practitioner – what does earing the Fellowship or Specialty designation do for me?

The earning of a CCSO Fellowship or Specialist designation is a rigorous procedure. As such, this title distinguishes you as having excelled beyond earning a degree or meeting your provincial maintenance of competence requirements. However, this personal satisfaction is dwarfed by the knowledge of improved outcomes and enriched experiences for your patients; as well as, expanded opportunities for research.

8. I did not earn the Specialist in contact lenses designation – can I still fit complicated and specialty contact lens designs in my clinic?

Yes you can. Although, earning the Contact Lens Specialist title will require you to complete standardized educational modules and other equally rigorous studies, it does not preclude any optometrist from practicing at a level they have previously practiced at or are competent to practice at. Obviously, completion of the Specialist requirements will increase your knowledge base, improve your skill set and upgrade your list of competencies that will assist you in improving patient outcomes and enriching patient experiences.

9. Do I have to publish any Journal articles to maintain my Fellowship or Specialty designations?

Maybe – the choice is left up to you. The publishing of a case report or original article is only one the ways of earing points towards maintenance of your Fellowship or Specialty designations. As many other, different ways exist to maintain your designation, we urge you to review the Maintenance of Fellowship and Specialty Designations pages for a detailed list of all possible ways of earning points.