August 04, 2014
2 min read

AOA president: Optometry needs independent CE accrediting body

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The American Optometric Association has called for optometry to work toward an independent continuing education accrediting body.

David A. Cockrell, OD, AOA president, sent a letter to organization members to inform them of the situation and ask for their help.

Cockrell noted in the letter that while the AOA has spoken with the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) regarding continuing education and a reviewing system, "there is widespread agreement on the need for an effective new process."

"There are aspects of these discussions that can be considered and commented on right now, including the urgent need to ensure that any panel with authority over CE accreditation is independent in its governance, operations and funding and on a firmly equal basis with the accrediting panels overseeing continuing education for our medical and dental physician colleagues," Cockrell said. "Given the array of powerful interests that want to undermine our stature and our relationship with our patients, this approach is just plain common sense."

Cockrell asked that optometrists voice their opinions in the debate so that it can "move forward toward a successful conclusion."


In response, ARBO provided a statement to Primary Care Optometry News. In the statement, Susy Yu, OD, MBA, FAAO, Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE) committee chairperson and ARBO vice president, discussed the COPE program, which "has long been the only nationally-recognized accrediting body for optometric continuing education."

Yu acknowledged that the COPE program needs work after changes to the health care system.

"COPE has been working with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to develop a process for accreditation of CE providers," she told PCON. "Also in the works are ongoing improvements to current CE accreditation standards to incorporate educational planning and outcomes measurement, similar to the standards of medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Our goal is to improve knowledge, performance and patient outcomes resulting in an optometric CE accreditation process that is equivalent with medicine’s accreditation process."

Yu also noted an intraprofessional advisory committee that COPE established to improve its system, consisting of representatives from the AOA, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, the American Academy of Optometry and the ACCME, as well as continuing education providers.

"However, the key to COPE's success lies in its independence," she explained. "COPE is a program of ARBO, an organization dedicated to supporting all of its constituent regulatory boards of optometry. ARBO’s member boards ultimately answer to the public.”

This allows ARBO and COPE to stay focused on the health and well-being of patients, Yu said. – by Chelsea Frajerman