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A Word from Our Chair

Hinel, Erich OD croppedNearly 10 years ago, against the backdrop of a rapidly changing healthcare landscape, the American Board of Optometry was formed to establish Optometric Board Certification.  What was true then is still true today.  Board Certification is the standard credential used in nearly every healthcare profession to ensure a clinician staying up-to-date with the most contemporary medical knowledge.  We have worked hard to ensure our process is rigorous but still attainable and to be recognized by CMS as substantially equivalent to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

The ABO is committed to enhancing the value of Optometric Board Certification.  Over two years ago, we began working on a new program to transform our maintenance of certification process to make it more relevant to everyday practice, and therefore more meaningful and valuable to our Diplomates.  Our new Continuous Assessment Program (CAP) replaces the costly, high-stakes 10-year examination with flexible, online, open book, and focused mini-assessments which embrace adult learning theories to increase learning and retention. In addition, Performance Practice Modules (PPM) will now become optional.  This modification comes after listening to feedback from our Diplomates and considering similar changes enacted by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

As Optometric Board Certification continues to evolve, it is important that we maintain and even exceed standards developed by other medical specialties to demonstrate our willingness to hold ourselves to the highest standards.  On an individual level, we frequently hear anecdotes that Diplomates are able to participate in clinical trials, serve as expert witnesses, and obtain hospital privileges, which in some instances would not have been possible without being Board Certified.  More broadly, Board Certification and the Continuous Assessment Program will play an important role in validating optometry’s merit for increased inclusion in health care policy and ultimately self-regulation.

Erich A. Hinel, OD, MS, FAAO
Chair, American Board of Optometry