The American Optometric Association, American Academy of Optometry,
American Optometric Student Association and the Association of Schools and
Colleges of Optometry have entered a joint Memorandum of Understanding
regarding the formation and organization of the American Board of Optometry,
according to press releases from the AOA and AAO.
According to an AOA press release, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
establishes the basic organizational and governance elements for the American
Board of Optometry (ABO), sets a timetable for circulating documents, qualifies
the ABO as a tax-exempt entity and implements the certification process.
The Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry stated on its Web site
that the group was unable to sign the MOU due to exclusivity
requirements, a required lack of transparency and noncompete provisions that
could usurp the regulatory authority of optometric licensing boards.
Participating organizations announced their appointments to the ABO. AOA
Board of Trustees member David Cockrell, OD, and Paul Ajamian, OD, will
represent the AOA. Past AAO president Tom Lewis, OD, PhD, who also served on
the American Board of Optometric Practice when the AOA first introduced the
concept of board certification 10 years ago, will represent the academy. David
A. Health, OD, president of the State University of New York State College of
Optometry, will represent ASCO, and Mary Phillips, OD, will represent the AOSA.
ARBO President William Rafferty, OD, told Primary Care Optometry
News that ARBO had several issues with the MOU process. One concern
was transparency, he said in an interview. The Memorandum of
Understanding was not supposed to be discussed or shared with anyone.
Dr. Rafferty said the ARBO board was also surprised that legal counsel
obtained by the AOA developed the MOU as opposed to all ABO members
participating in the process.
Exclusivity was another issue of concern for ARBO. Dr. Rafferty said
that, if requested by a member board, ARBO would be obligated to develop a
continued competency program for that board. Because aspects of it could
overlap with a certification program, it could, in theory, violate the
exclusivity and noncompete requirements specified by the MOU.
ARBOs Web site states that ARBO
is very willing to
continue to work with the ABO as appropriate for our organizations
mission and responsibility to its member boards.