A Word from Our Chair

September 9, 2019

Earlier this year the American Board of Optometry launched the Continuous Assessment Program, known as CAP for short. It is the heart of our Maintenance of Certification process, which also includes Self Assessment Modules and COPE approved webinars, aimed at creating a structured pathway for self-study and self-assessment. About one-third of our Diplomates started the CAP program this year. The first CAP assessment on Systemic Disease has been very well received, and the second assessment launches this month and focuses on Anterior Segment.

I would first like to recognize the hard work and commitment of those at the American Optometric Association. By now, I am sure you have heard that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a recall for the online vision screening test formerly known as Opternative. This follows years of intense scrutiny and pressure from the AOA. We are grateful for their efforts to ensure patients have access to medically recognized eye health care and to protect them from services that may put their health at risk.

The future will certainly bring additional challenges, but also opportunities to expand and further define optometric practice and specialties beyond what previous generations of optometrists ever thought possible. While optometric board certification is not a magic bullet, it will play a vital role in how optometry is perceived by and continues to integrate itself into our evolving health care system.  ABO’s board certification and maintenance of certification programs were developed to be substantially equivalent to the American Board of Medical Specialties. The ABMS has set the standard for certification in medicine. Other health care professions, such as dentistry, podiatry, nursing, orthodontics and pharmacy, have followed this model, and it is now the accepted standard in physician certification and recognition of a specialty practice.

Consider what being an ABO Board Certified Diplomate means:

  • Passage of a rigorous, psychometrically sound written exam.
  • Enrollment in a four-part Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program.
  • MOC activities that measure competencies built upon evidence-based guidelines, national clinical and quality standards, and specialty best practices.
  • Demonstration of lifelong learning and self-assessment
  • Continuous assessment of knowledge, judgment, and skills.
  • Evidence of improved practice patterns.
  • Recognized by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
  • Recognized by third party payers.
  • Recognized by employers and health care systems.
  • Recognized by the public.
  • Recognized within the profession.

We are constantly striving to make board certification a meaningful but manageable process for our busy Diplomates. Many of you have commented on how beneficial the new CAP assessments have been at maintaining and building new knowledge. We want you to be as successful as possible so don’t worry if you have not passed the first couple of assessments. For those who do not pass at least 7 assessments in your 3-year cycle you will be given a chance to retake them during a remediation year. So stick with it!

As always, please reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

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

Available online, on-demand, and open book, CAP invites participants to answer clinically related questions. While most of the questions cover fundamental knowledge, the article-based portion of the assessment promotes learning new information and incorporating those concepts into practice. Even the best-intentioned and most well-read optometrist can have trouble keeping up with new clinical guidelines and landmark clinical trials. Our process is designed to help optometrists review important clinical knowledge, while honing in on landmark research and new treatment guidelines, which can immediately be applied to clinical practice.

Although the assessments are scored, their main goal is to facilitate learning in three main ways:

  1. Diplomates are provided with references to review prior to taking each assessment. These references, along with any other reference material, can be used throughout the assessment to help Diplomates learn the material and answer the question correctly.
  2. After each question, Diplomates receive feedback that explains the rationale for the correct answer. This helps to facilitate better retention of information than just “right/wrong” feedback.
  3. Lastly, Diplomates will have multiple attempts to learn the material. So don’t worry if you didn’t pass the first assessment.  If necessary, you will be given a chance at the end of your three-year cycle to pass any assessments you may have missed during a remediation year.

ABO Board Certification is designed to help our Diplomates be as successful as possible! We are constantly striving to improve our process and we value the feedback we receive from our Diplomates. Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns that you may have so that we can provide you with the best possible experience.

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



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