A Word from Our Chair

April 26, 2018

Hinel, Erich OD croppedIt is said that a mentor inspires every great achievement.  Many of us act as mentors to students, residents, or even young associates.  I hope that each of you will inspire your mentees to achieve higher standards, to set themselves apart, and to take the next step in their career by becoming Board Certified.  Here are some reasons why you should encourage them to be board certified (and maybe a little reminder to yourself as well).

Board Certification is a credential valued by patients.  According to a survey conducted by the American Board of Medical Specialties, 95% of patients stated it was important that their doctor be board certified.  In fact, it ranked second, right behind bedside manner, in the most important factors in choosing a doctor. The physician review website Healthgrades.com states “board certification should be one of your top considerations when choosing a doctor… Board certification indicates that a doctor is highly qualified in the medical field in which he or she practices.”

Board Certification is a credential valued by employers.  There are a growing number of large, medically focused practices around the country that require their optometrists to be board certified.  Gundersen Health System states “being Board Certified is an assurance to our patients and various third party payors that we maintain a measurable level of competence by a recognized, accredited program.”  Optometrists who work in VA Hospitals are also eligible for Special Advancement for Achievement (SAA) following passage of the ABO board certification examination.

Board Certification is good for optometry.  Most remember a time when optometry was one of the only doctorate-level health care professions without a board certification process in place.  In fact, a position paper published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology prior to the creation of the ABO stated that, for optometrists, “there is no ongoing national recertification process to assure the public of the competency of optometrists who are already in practice.”  It goes on to state that by contrast “nearly all [ophthalmologists] undergo a national board certification process.”  Today, optometry, along with other doctorate-level professions such as podiatry, pharmacy, dentistry, and physical therapy, have all chosen to hold themselves to the same standards that are well-established in the medical community.

I hope to see all of you at Optometry’s Meeting this summer.  We will be announcing the details of our continuous assessment program, which will replace our 10-year recertification exam.  This new initiative will be the largest evolution in Board Certification since our inception and aims to make optometric board certification a more meaningful, flexible, and less costly process for our Diplomates.  As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

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



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