A Word from Our Chair

May 3, 2017


With thanks to our volunteers….

The American Board of Optometry relies heavily on volunteers, our colleagues who work tirelessly to ensure that the mission of the organization is fulfilled, and the work gets done. We couldn’t function without them.

Would you like to volunteer? Here are some of the roles volunteers fill:


Directors are board members who run the organization. About half are referred by partner organizations (AOA, ASCO, AOSA and Academy), and the rest are “at large” members, who generally are people who have volunteered in other capacities, and have expressed an interest in working in leadership.

State Ambassadors

The State Ambassador program was established in 2015 to start a grassroots advocacy effort for reaching ODs on a state and local level. Ambassadors have one-on-one conversations with colleagues and are able to answer questions or hear concerns.  The ambassador’s main focus is to educate, listen, mentor and advocate for board certification.

School Ambassadors

ABO recently added a School Ambassador program, with the goal of having diplomates at each school who specifically are able to answer questions regarding board certification from students, residents and fellow faculty members. We have not found ambassadors for every school, so please let us know if you’re interested and available.

Test Item Writers and Reviewers

We are constantly re-evaluating and updating the board certification test, and every five years we are obligated to redesign the test based on the results of a survey of what optometrists actually do in their practices day to day. In order to keep the test current and clinically relevant, we have many volunteer subject matter experts who write and review questions. For one question to be statistically valid, it has to be written by one subject matter expert with references to support the correct answer, and three subject matter experts must agree with the answer and confirm that the references are valid. It’s a huge effort.

SAM Writers and Reviewers

Writing a Self-Assessment Module (SAM) is equally challenging. In general a writer researches a topic to find independent evidence supporting clinical decision making. The writer completes a didactic portion, and then writes questions, similar to test questions (although SAM’s are not graded), for the Diplomate to test their knowledge. All answers have to be supported by evidence. The SAM is then reviewed by three reviewers who are experts in the subject to make sure that the topic is adequately covered and the answers are correct.

There are many other ways you can volunteer for ABO. You can bring literature to a meeting, offer to do a talk to your colleagues, and help out at our booth at Optometry’s Meeting.

To all of you who have volunteered your time and expertise: thank you! We are so grateful for the work you do on ABO’s behalf. To everyone else: get involved! We would love to work with you.

All best wishes,
Barbara L. Reiss, OD, FAAO
Chair, American Board of Optometry



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