SAN ANTONIO – The American Board of Optometry is replacing its 10-year recertification exam and current maintenance of certification program with a Continuous Assessment Program.
American Board of Optometry (ABO) chair Erich Hinel, OD, explained the new program during a press conference here at the American Academy of Optometry meeting.
“Board certification is a gold standard in health care, in medicine, among every health profession, that demonstrates clinicians have exceeded entry-level requirements and are up-to-date with the most contemporary medical knowledge,” he said. “Our new Continuous Assessment Program is a way to maintain board certification that will replace the 10-year recertification exam in 2019.”
The new program, “preserves the rigorous and credible assessments, maintains parity with medical specialty models and continues to prove optometry’s merit for recognition in health care policy and, ultimately, self-regulation,” Hinel said.
He said the ABO studied other medical boards and received feedback from diplomates.
Hinel listed core principles: flexibility, promotion of focused learning while providing instant feedback, relevance to daily clinical practice and cost savings.
All new diplomates still need to pass the initial board exam and still need 100 hours of continuing education over 3 years, he explained. Two self-assessment modules every 3 years are still required.
“What is new is that the practice performance modules are optional and will count toward CE points,” Hinel said.
There are nine mini-assessments containing 25 questions each that are taken 3 times per year, he said, “with the option to drop or skip two assessments during the 3-year cycle if it’s a topic that you’re not as comfortable with.”
Assessments will cover specific topic areas, such as glaucoma or contact lenses, with an emphasis on clinical knowledge, new research and new practice guidelines.
The assessments will be open-book, references will be provided, and they are accessible anywhere at any time on a computer or mobile device. The user can start, stop and pause in between questions, Hinel explained.
“There is no need to go to a testing center,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you get the right answer, just that you’re learning and get the right answer.”
The new assessments will allow a savings of $1,000, Hinel added. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO
Disclosure: Hinel is chair of the ABO.