The title “Dispensing Optician” is protected by law and only registered practitioners are allowed to use this. If you are not registered as a Dispensing Optician, or if you are still studying, you are not allowed to use this title.
You may not be aware that the term “optical dispenser” should also not be used by persons that are unregistered. Section 7 of the HPCA Act 2003 states: “A person may only use names, words, titles, initials, abbreviations or descriptions stating or implying that the person is a health practitioner of a particular kind if the person is registered, and is qualified to be registered, as a health practitioner of that kind”.
The Ministry of Health’s view is that the title “optical dispenser” is so similar to the title “Dispensing Optician” that there is a real risk of consumers being misled.
The Ministry’s approach in enforcing the Act is to first seek compliance. In cases where the persons are unwilling to comply with the Act, the Ministry will seek to prosecute. Prosecutions under Section 7 carry with them a fine of up to $10,000.
The ADONZ recommends that students who are training to become Dispensing Opticians use the word “student” or “trainee” before the title Dispensing Optician so that there can be no confusion as to status.
The student (or supervisor) should ensure that the client / patient understands that you are a student, i.e. there should be at least a verbal exchange of confirmation (if not a written one). Any other titles should not be used as they have the potential to create confusion for the public.
Please make sure that you and the people you work with comply with the Act.