Press Release: New Orbis Training Tool Sets Gold Standard to Prepare Ophthalmic Nurses for the Operating Room

Orbis is excited to announce the release of Orbis Ophthalmic Nursing Competency Assessment Rubric (ONCAR), the first published tool of its kind for ophthalmic nurses.

NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2020 -- Today, Orbis International, a leading global nonprofit that has trained eye care teams in places with the greatest need for nearly four decades, announced the publication of the Orbis Ophthalmic Nursing Competency Assessment Rubric (ONCAR) for scrub nurses and technicians in Insight, the American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses' peer-reviewed clinical journal. The ONCAR is the first published tool of its kind for ophthalmic nurse training.

The new tool fills a critical gap by providing a gold standard from which to assess early career ophthalmic scrub nurses' readiness for the operating room and outlining the specific skills nurses must demonstrate to progress from novicehood to competency during training. The ONCAR covers 19 core competencies, including equipment set-up, pre-surgical handwashing, setting up a sterile field, handling of sharp equipment, prepping the operating room, proper care of sutures and steps to safely wrap up the operation. The rubric was modeled after the International Council of Ophthalmology's Ophthalmology Surgical Competency Assessment Rubric (ICO-OSCAR), the accepted standardized rubric for both teaching and assessing the surgical skills of ophthalmologists-in-training.

Angela Purcell

RN, coauthor of the ONCAR and Head Nurse of Orbis's Flying Eye Hospital

It is our hope that the ONCAR is adopt­ed glob­al­ly in the train­ing of oph­thalmic scrub nurs­es and tech­ni­cians. Evi­dence shows that well-trained oph­thalmic scrub nurs­es play a crit­i­cal role not just in pre­vent­ing com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing surgery, but also in ensur­ing pos­i­tive out­comes for patients over­all. These nurs­es are often patients’ first line of con­tact for under­stand­ing the pro­ce­dure they are about to under­go as well as fol­low-up care.

Eye care professionals on program in Trujillo, Peru practice simulation training onboard the Flying Eye Hospital.

Released during the World Health Organization's Year of the Nurse, the paper underscores Orbis's commitment to training every member of the eye care team – not only ophthalmologists, but also nurses, anesthesiologists and biomedical engineers. Empowering and supporting all local practitioners is critical for ensuring that patients get the best possible care and a meaningful step in democratizing and strengthening eye care systems.

Even though Orbis's Flying Eye Hospital has been temporarily grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Orbis's staff nurses continue to contribute to the field with peer-reviewed publications like the ONCAR, conducting virtual trainings for nurses, and developing new courses to be offered when in-person training can safely resume.

Moving forward, Orbis plans to conduct additional research to measure outcomes of using the ONCAR in training. Orbis also plans to create rubrics for other sub-specialties of nursing, such as sterilization and circulating nursing.

About Orbis International

Orbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has been a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness for nearly four decades. Orbis transforms lives by delivering the skills, resources and knowledge needed to deliver accessible quality eye care. Working in collaboration with local partners, including hospitals, universities, government agencies and ministries of health, Orbis provides hands-on ophthalmology training, strengthens healthcare infrastructure and advocates for the prioritization of eye health on public health agendas. Orbis operates the world's only Flying Eye Hospital, a fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft, and an award-winning telemedicine platform, Cybersight. For the past nine consecutive years, Orbis has achieved Charity Navigator's coveted four-star rating for demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, placing Orbis in the top 3% of U.S. charities. To learn more, please visit

Media Contact

Kristin Taylor Associate Director, Global Marketing and Communications

Address: Orbis
​520 8th Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10018

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