A Word from Our Chair

October 29, 2020
Hodge

Our annual Board of Director’s meeting was held in Nashville, Tennessee on October 6, 2020.  Due to COVID related issues and travel restrictions the meeting was held in hybrid fashion with both in-person and virtual attendance. If nothing else, our profession has adapted very well to being creative for meetings and continuing education offerings during the pandemic.  I would like to acknowledge and thank the ABO directors and our ED April Wilhelm, along with Director of Education and Assessment Dr. Catherine Hines, and our many volunteers and ambassadors for their dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of ABO.

I am excited to share with you some of the initiatives the board has been focusing on in the past 12 months and where our focus will be as we move into 2021. A top priority has been securing a new test delivery partner to improve the examination process and provide a better experience for our testing candidates. I am pleased to announce we have officially entered a partnership with Scantron, a leader in digital assessment and delivery, and will begin offering the board certification exam at Scantron testing centers in 2021. This new relationship also offers significant cost savings over our previous exam delivery partner. You can read more about this new partnership in the article below.

Another top priority has been working with our schools and colleges of optometry to offer graduating residents the opportunity to become board certified immediately after residency. Offered as a pilot program in 2019, we have seen a steady increase in interest among residents and anticipate 100+ sitting for the certification exam in 2021. The resident initiative not only benefits residents by allowing them a path into board certification based on their residency, but also benefits schools by gathering raw test data that can be used in assessing residency programs. As with our medical colleagues, board certification is a natural progression for residents to continue to demonstrate their commitment to a higher standard and embrace the value of life long learning.

Highlighting a few current and ongoing ABO achievements, the ABO webinar offerings, which are complimentary to candidates and diplomates, have been a huge success.  Each webinar is worth 2 COPE-approved CE hours and can be attended live or watched in recorded format. Our next offering will be Tuesday November 17, 2020 with Dr. Craig Hyre.

Continuing our goal to provide valuable CE opportunities for all Diplomates, ED April Wilhelm has been working closely with state ambassadors to convince state boards to accept ABO CAP assessments as qualified CE credit. Thanks to these efforts, the following 9 states are now accepting CAP CE credits: AL, CA, CO, KS, NC, NH, TN, TX and WA.  We will continue working diligently with the remaining state ambassadors to grow the list of states willing to accept CAP credit as CE.  If you have any contacts with your particular state board and feel as if you can assist, please contact April at the ABO office. 

Over the past 12 months, we have also seen an increase in the number of employers that are requiring board certification for ODs. In addition to many MD/OD practices where all providers are expected to be board certified,  many larger organizations are moving in this direction as well such as Mayo Clinic, Vanderbilt Health, Davis Duehr Dean Eye Care and Gundersen Health System. We anticipate this trend may continue to grow, making ABO certification even more valuable to our profession and providers in the near future.

Finally, a future focus of the board is to form an advisory committee to assist with long range planning for ABO. We hope to have the board in place by early 2021 with conversations directed toward identifying avenues to improve our offerings and processes to better serve our candidates and diplomates now and into the future.  The committee will be by invitation and will potentially include past ABO directors, current diplomates and select leaders in the profession to ensure that all voices are heard as we consider added qualifications, CAP improvements and the value of maintenance of certification.

Thank you for your continued dedication to life long learning and the advancement of optometry.

Paul Hodge, OD
Chair, American Board of Optometry

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