Annual Board Meeting Sets Priorities for Future

July 17, 2023
Left to Right: Niloufar Soltanian, Lynn Hammonds, Geoffrey Goodfellow, Katherine Mastrota, Matthew Gerstberger, Russell Newman, Kristen Thelen, David Sterna, David Parker, Bibin Cherian, Mohammad Rafieetary, Paul Hodge, Mark Eltis, Diane Adamczyk

A packed agenda kept discussions moving at the annual ABO Board of Directors’ meeting, which took place in conjunction with Optometry’s Meeting on June 20 in Washington DC. The first order of business welcomed a new Chair, Dr. Diane Adamczyk, a new Vice Chair, Dr. Matthew Gerstberger, a new Recruitment and Retention Chair, Dr. Niloufar Soltanian and two new Directors, Dr. Mark Eltis, our Canadian Director and Dr. Bibin Cherian, our American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) Director. Recognition was given to Dr. Paul Hodge, who retired from the board after serving for eight years and to Dr. David Sterna who moved into the Immediate Past Chair role after serving as the ABO Board Chair since 2021.

Dr. Bibin Cherian comes to the ABO board as our AOSA representative, having served as AOSA’s president while at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He was one of the top graduates in his class of 2020, earning the Golden Retinoscope for clinical excellence and furthered his training with a residency in Ocular Disease and Refractive Surgery in Oklahoma City through BVA & nJoy Vision. Dr. Cherian currently provides primary eye care to patients at BeSpoke Vision in Edmund, OK with an emphasis in ocular disease, specialty contact lens and myopia management.

Dr. Mark Eltis previously served as ABO’s Canadian Ambassador and was instrumental in opening board certification to Canadian licensed optometrists. Dr. Eltis is in private practice at View Eye Care in Toronto, Ontario and currently serves as president of the College of Optometrists of Ontario. He is a well-known lecturer, published author, and a member of the Optometric Glaucoma Society.

A primary topic of discussion for the board centered around the new Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) program and the parameters of the pilot program. Applications for the new CAQs became available to Diplomates in May and the CAQ exam is expected to be available in September. You can read more about the launch of the CAQ program in the related article in this newsletter. The board finalized details for the MOC path for each CAQ, noting that MOC requirements will largely be the same as general MOC requirements, however, there will be more of an emphasis in the specific CAQ area. There is a nominal application fee for each CAQ, but no additional fee to maintain the CAQ, which is covered by the standard annual MOC fee.

In a 2022 survey to gauge support for a CAQ program, residents were overwhelmingly interested in a credential that would acknowledge their specialty area. Residents, as well as younger optometrists and optometrists practicing full scope optometry are often likely to pursue board certification and we hope to spread the word about CAQs through social media and partnerships with professional organizations and groups.

A committee was established during the board meeting that will focus on social media communications, speaking engagements with students and residents and event opportunities to educate the profession on the benefits of board certification and maintenance of certification both in individual patient care and profession wide. Education will also focus on what board certification is and is not, acknowledging an ongoing issue with many optometrists claiming board certification based on passing the initial NBEO licensing exam.

Other agenda items included approval of a CAP summary to be published after each CAP assessment closes, beginning in this newsletter with Posterior Segment, and agreement to prioritize webinars and learning modules that support Diplomates with CAP assessment preparation as well as state required or specialized CE such as surgical laser use, primary eyecare surgical procedures, cosmetic eyecare and oral and/or opioid medications.

ABO’s commitment to helping our Diplomates navigate evolving practice standards and guidelines through quality education and knowledge assessments was a central focus throughout all discussions. The board continues to be aware of and guided by our mission to advance the quality of eyecare by promoting excellence through education, assessment, practice and professionalism, for the benefit of all patients.

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