The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and its member institutions have embraced the concepts of diversity and multiculturalism in optometric education and in the profession. ASCO bases its diversity program on several assumptions including:
- Greater diversity among health professionals is associated with improved access to care for our diverse society, greater patient choice and satisfaction, better patient-provider communication, and better educational experiences for all students, which will prepare them for the diverse communities they will serve in practice
- Diversity is good for optometric education and the profession
- It is the right thing to do
ASCO has completed the first two phases of its diversity initiatives and is about to embark on the third phase, greater effort towards student diversity and the development of cultural competence module that can be integrated into optometric education both at the classroom and clinical levels.
The first phase was a series of multicultural/diversity symposiums conducted at schools/colleges of optometry. The symposiums were designed to assist optometry colleges/schools in creating, fostering and maintaining an institutional climate that welcomes and embraces diversity and encourages an environment of multiculturalism.
The second phase, the multicultural/diversity mini-grants provided seed money for a specific project; it was designed to assist the schools/colleges of optometry with their long-term diversity/multicultural efforts.