CAQ Program Set to Launch in 2023

August 18, 2022
State Licensed

Following ABO’s annual Board of Directors meeting in June, the specialty committee met to continue developing and refining the Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) pilot program. Earning a CAQ will allow board-certified optometrists to achieve recognition for their experience, skills, and knowledge in a focused clinical area. A CAQ reflects that optometrists are first grounded in the training and knowledge of primary eye care, which is enhanced but not replaced through specialized clinical practice.

The committee was joined by invited guests, including ABO Diplomates and non-Diplomate optometrists, who represented the two specialty areas that will be the focus of the pilot program – Glaucoma and Cornea/Contact Lens. With input from the specialty-area experts, the committee developed a draft set of requirements needed to qualify for the CAQ programs. The requirements will be based on a flexible points system that recognizes diverse pathways for establishing specialty expertise, including residency training, other specialized clinical training, patient care experience, research, teaching, and membership and/or fellowship in specialty societies and organizations.

ABO Diplomates who are interested in pursuing a CAQ in either Glaucoma or Cornea/Contact Lens will have an opportunity to apply beginning the summer of 2023. Once the required number of qualifying points is documented, CAQ candidates will demonstrate a high level of knowledge in their subject area through a low-stakes computer-based written assessment. Upon successful completion of the assessment, the Diplomate will be awarded a Certificate of Added Qualifications.

The specialty committee is still discussing the specific details of the CAQ maintenance program, but initial consensus is that additional activities above and beyond the current maintenance of certification (MOC) won’t be required. Rather MOC requirements for a CAQ path will simply place a heavier emphasis on activities within a Diplomate’s specialty area; e.g. a certain percentage of the 100 CE hours in an MOC cycle will need to be related to the CAQ specialty. ABO is excited to offer this specialty credential program to our Diplomates. Our intention is to create a meaningful credential that provides value when communicating with both patients and colleagues. If the pilot programs are successful, we envision creating CAQ programs in other specialty areas based on the interest level of our Diplomates. Additional information will be shared as we get closer to 2023, including entry requirements, how to apply, assessment details and maintenance requirements.

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