ASCO Releases Special Themed Journal Issue on Diversity and Cultural Competence

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) announces the release of a special issue of its Journal, Optometric Education. entitled Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence (Volume 43 Number 1 Fall 2017) is available at http://journal.opted.org/. The issue features two peer-reviewed articles: Cognitive Strategies to Improve Patient Care in Cross-Cultural Settings and Developing Military Cultural Competency to Better Serve Those Who Have Served Us, two special reports: The Path to Cultural Competence in Optometric Education and Practice: A Timeline to Multicultural Clinical Excellence and Diversity in our Colleges and Schools of Optometry and other insightful “Educator’s Podium” pieces. The guest editor for the issue, Dr. Gary Chu, of the New England College of Optometry and former chair of the ASCO Cultural Competency Curriculum Guidelines Subcommittee, also authored a guest editorial: Diversity, Inclusion, Cultural and Linguistic Competence: Do We Have a Strategy?

The timely issue examines ASCO’s and optometry’s commitment to diversity and cultural and linguistic competence to date and asserts that making an impact in these areas requires further efforts and an ongoing profession-wide commitment. Dr. Chu notes, “ASCO has made great strides in moving the needle in the area of diversity and cultural competency. This journal is a reflection of what we have accomplished. However, there is much more to do. I hope this theme issue will help the reader pause, reflect, and act so we can move the needle further!”

ASCO and its member institutions have embraced diversity and cultural and linguistic competence in optometric education through the implementation of a multi-year, multi-stage project, generously funded by Walmart, that focuses primarily on the implementation of the ASCO Guidelines for Culturally Competent Eye and Vision Care at its 23 schools and colleges of optometry. The Guidelines are available at: https://optometriceducation.org/files/Guidelines_CulturallyCompetentEyeAndVisionCare.pdf

Dr. Andrew Buzzelli, University of Pikeville Vice-President for Optometric Education, Kentucky College of Optometry and chair of ASCO’s Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee says, “It is no secret why optometry has grown so rapidly in both number of patients cared for and scope of practice over the last three decades. It is the challenge of a modern and global society to extend our patient focus to individuals of different cultures and environments. A knowledge or acceptance of diversity is no longer the standard for optometric health care. It is no longer enough to be aware that a person is the product of a different cultural experience than ourselves. The tenants of that culture which may and probably will affect our treatment outcomes and patient understandings need to become as much a part of our knowledge as pathology and pharmacology are.”

For additional information about Optometric Education: Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence contact Carol Brubaker, ASCO’s Manager of Professional Affairs, at cbrubaker@opted.org.