Working as an optometrist in canada with Dr Barilee Idemudia

By berrysmotivation - June 18, 2017

Meet Dr Barilee Idemudia. She has done some research and outlined the pathway to get licensed as an OD in Canada for eye doctors interested in practicing in Canada.

I obtained my Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. After which I went to Nigeria to do my internship and national service.  During that time, I knew I didn't want to practice in Nigeria. I wanted more. The doctor of optometry programme encompasses a lot and I wanted to go the whole nine yards. I wanted to do my residency and specialize in low vision, neuro-optometry or sports vision and I knew I won't get that in Nigeria; not at the moment (let's be honest). So I made a list of countries that would give me the most I wanted from optometry.
I worked in the U.K as an extern student in my fourth year in University and I didn't exactly like the practice.
First, the optometrists in the U.K, aren't eye doctors, they don't get the OD degree it's a Bsc. Programme in the U.K. which is 3years, and one year for clinical internship as compared to the 6-year OD programme. The scopes of both are also very different. In the U.K, I did more of refraction, contact lens fitting and occasionally, slit lamp examination. I didn't want just that, I wanted more. So it was either Australia, US or Canada. Long story short, I picked Canada. Now the question was how do I get there and start working as an optometrist. The Optometry practice scope in Canada makes me excited.
So first thing, I went through the easiest route, finding a school and doing a course. I also picked a course that would be useful for me (I studied health care management). As the founder of the Sight Rescue Initiative (an NGO aimed at providing primary eye care for developing countries) I felt the HCM programme would give me more health managerial knowledge to run the NGO.
I also did lots of research on the licensing exams for Optometry in Canada which are outlined below:

FORAC (Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada) EVALUATING EXAM
-          You complete a WES (World Education Service) credential application for FORAC.
With this process, you go to and apply for your transcripts to be assessed for professional licensing. All the steps are on the site, you get your transcripts sent from your school to the address on the Wes site and after Wes receives the complete documents, they assess your credentials to know if it is an equivalent of the Canadian degree. Most OD programmes are equivalents to be honest. 

-          You complete a pre-registration application to FORAC credentialing office available on the FORAC website. Then FORAC credentialing panel makes a recommendation and informs the provincial optometric regulatory body identified by applicants and the college registration committee makes a decision. 
-          Then the applicant is referred by the registration committee to the Touchstone institute to complete the evaluation exam. I guess this exam was formerly called PLA( prior learning assessment exam). 

-          Based on the evaluating exam score, the applicant is directed by the registration committee to either go straight to write the CACO (Canadian assessment of competence in Optometry) which is if your score is like super fantastic or you are referred to go into bridging one(8 weeks of intense education) or bridging two (48 weeks long) which is offered by the university of Waterloo school of optometry and vision science.

-          When passed, the applicant is directed by the registration committee to complete an orientation programme and after some documentation you get registered.

I know it looks lengthy and tasking but it's all worth it in the end, plus you get your money's worth. You also enjoy your practice to the max, performing all you learnt in school and doing all that is required of an optometrist. The pay is also very good.

I hope this gives you an idea on all it takes. Best of luck if you decide to go through the process. 


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  2. This post is very helpful and informative. Most people don't even realize they are being tested by an Optometrist and simply call them the optician. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for the information.
    1. Do I have to come to Canada to start these processes?
    2. Is the PLA exam and FORAC done online?
    3. How can I get materials that will prepare me for the CACO exam?
    4. What type of visa should I apply for?
    5. Can I get an invite from the university

    Thanks for your Anticipated reply.

    1. Thank you so much.. this is really helpful.

    2. Thank you so much.. this is really helpful.

    3. Thank you so much.. this is really helpful.