Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents (TPA) Certification

Updated May 2016

Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents (TPA) certification allows optometrists to prescribe drugs to their patients. The deadline for members of the College to become certified in TPAs has been extended to January 1, 2017. Following this date, members who were not deemed to be TPA-certified by the College previously will not be able to become TPA-certified. However, they can practise without prescribing therapeutic pharmaceutical drugs.

NEW: In addition, starting on January 1, 2017, new applicants for registration must be TPA-certified prior to making their applications to the College. This includes those applying for registration in Ontario under labour mobility provisions. Applicants currently in the system would be accepted under the current system. Applicants presently in the system would be accepted under the current requirements.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find 100- and 20-hour TPA courses; however, the College of Optometry at Nova Southeastern University has committed to offering a 100-hour TPA course from June 9–18, 2016.

The Designated Drugs Regulation details the drugs that TPA-certified optometrists can prescribe. Read the regulation here.

Members are encouraged to carefully review the TPA Education Policy to determine where their own education and qualifications fit in and to determine what, if any, upgrading or continuing education program they may need to complete. Read the College’s TPA policy

Or view these flow charts, designed to aid in understanding the TPA policy but not to replace it.

Criteria for 100- and 20-hour TPA Courses

The Educational Requirements for Members to Prescribe Drugs policy refers to a 100-hour course and a 20-hour refresher course. Council has approved the following criteria for these courses.

1OO-hour Course:
  • Course content must be developed by an Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE)-accredited school. (The ACOE requirement will ensure the quality of the course content but a non-ACOE provider may work with the ACOE school re: providing a venue and putting on the course.)
  • The content must have a minimum of 60 hours didactic and a minimum of 40 hours clinical instruction.
  • Participants must pass the course exam.
20-hour Refresher Course:
  • The course must be a single, cohesive course that refreshes and updates members’ knowledge regarding the categories of therapeutic pharmaceutical agents that would usually be used for the treatment and management of ocular disease. (A 20-hr refresher course that is too narrow in scope [focused particularly on one condition or area of practice] does not meet this criterion. GE courses taken over the last five years are unlikely to meet this criterion unless they were designed specifically as a 20-hour, comprehensive TPA refresher course.)
  • The course content must be developed by an ACOE-accredited school.