Is it ABOP redux? Not exactly; but, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has formed a project team, made up of members of various organizations, to devise a board certification process for optometrists.

The project team, chaired by Randolph E. Brooks, O.D., includes representatives from the AOA, American Academy of Optometry (AAO), Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO), National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO), Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and American Optometric Student Association (AOSA).

The AOA, AAO, ARBO, NBEO, ASCO and AOSA chose to address board certification now because the profession has demonstrated a readiness to consider the issue in a comprehensive, inclusive manner, the organizations said in a joint statement released at last months SECO International Meeting in Atlanta. This readiness is evidenced by 10 of the 57 preferred futures of the Optometry 2020 Summits relating to competence and certification.

Board certification, they say, is necessary to demonstrate continued and advanced clinical competence to the public, third party payers and government agencies.

This isnt the first time the AOA has considered board certification. Many will remember that the AOA proposed a process of board certification and established the American Board of Optometric Practitioners, ABOP. Members of the profession rejected the idea, however, and in June 2000, the AOA House of Delegates voted to stop implementation of the board certification process and provide no new funding for ABOP.

The difference this time is that the multiple organizations are involved from the beginning, unlike ABOP, in which the AOA did not seek input from other organizations, says AOA President-elect Kevin Alexander, O.D.  It then had the uphill task of selling the idea of board certification.

The idea here is that we get everybody in the room and create a process of board certification that will demonstrate advanced competence, Dr. Alexander says.

The hope is that we will develop a process that the profession will like, that the profession will adopt and that the profession will think is useful to optometry, Dr. Brooks adds. The project team will meet in May, and Dr. Brooks expects the process to take one to two years to come to fruition. Any plan will have to be approved by the AOAs House of Delegates at the associations annual congress.

Vol. No: 144:03Issue: 3/15/2007