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New Developments at Annual Board Meeting

St. LouisThe American Board of Optometry’s annual meeting was held in St. Louis, Missouri on November 7th, where Dr. Erich Hinel was appointed as Board Chair. Dr. Hinel has been on the Board of Directors since 2014 and replaces outgoing chair, Dr. Barbara Reiss. Dr. Reiss will remain on the board as an immediate past chair. Other appointments from the annual meeting include Vice Chair, Dr. Paul Hodge, Treasurer, Dr. Stanley Woo, Secretary, Dr. Michael Gerstner and Dr. Niloufar Soltanian as a new director representing AOSA. Dr. James Vaught will remain as Executive Director.

The focus of this year’s annual meeting was on the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process and re-certification. Ensuring our MOC program is meeting the needs of Diplomates, the profession and the public we serve is a top priority for ABO. With advances in technology and learning theory, we have started to shift the way education is delivered and physician knowledge is assessed. Reviewing our MOC requirements and following our objective of lifelong learning, board members identified two critical areas for keeping Diplomates up to date with the use of new technologies and innovative learning methods.

Re-certification

Our current MOC process is a cycle of three, 3-year stages followed by a re-certification exam in year ten. The Board unanimously approved moving away from a re-certification exam in year ten in favor of a continuous assessment structure that allows for shorter and more frequent assessments that can be taken on a laptop or tablet. This alternative method of assessing knowledge as a part of MOC addresses concerns raised by many practitioners about the benefit and usefulness of requiring a high stakes exam every 7 – 10 years.

Several member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) have already undertaken pilot programs for continuous assessment.  As ABO finalizes the format and structure for our continuous assessment process, we will look closely to maintain our process alignment with medicine and seek Diplomate input on the design and implementation of the new program. And while the process itself will be transforming, the core objective of a sound clinical assessment will remain the same.

Benefits of Continuous Assessment

  • No proctored, secure exam at an examination facility after initial certification
  • No high re-certification fee
  • Clinically focused, pre-determined topic areas over each 3-year cycle
  • Shorter, more frequent mini-assessments where performance is measured over time
  • Ability to complete mini-assessments at your convenience on a laptop or tablet
  • Receive feedback on each question to facilitate continued learning
  • Earn CE credits for each mini-assessment completed successfully
  • Remediation path to get back on track if a sufficient number of mini-assessments are not passed

We are excited about this new method of assessment for knowledge. By offering a path to demonstrate competence in smaller, more frequent intervals while at the same time introducing a learning element to the process, we hope to improve the engagement experience for all Diplomates.

Please check your email in early December for a survey on the format and structure of the continuous assessment process. Your input will assist ABO in the final design of the program which is anticipated for roll-out in early 2019.

Continuing Education (CE)

Current MOC requirements for CE call for fifty percent of the hours to come from state board or COPE approved in-person or live webinar courses. This CE is captured under Category 1. Beginning in early 2018, Category 1 will also include distance learning courses with exam approved by a state board, COPE or an ACOE-accredited member of ASCO. Journal courses and online courses will both count for 1 point per hour. This change allows for much greater flexibility in meeting Category 1 CE requirements.