This section describes the standards to be met by an optometry specialty board seeking to become a member institution of the American Board of Optometry Specialties (ABOS).
The specialty board issuing certifications in a specialty shall be an independent, not-for-profit entity with a board of directors and officers of up to 7 individuals of which the majority of voting members are licensed practitioners of the specialty and two non-voting members who will represent the public interest. The board may have ex officio members representing the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and the independent entity preparing and administering its national written specialty examination testing competence in the specialty required to apply for specialty certification.
The specialty may be a blend, mixture or concentration of one or more ASCO listed residencies but preferentially have a major emphasis within one of the 11 ASCO listed residencies.
The specialty board shall operate in a transparent manner and adhere to a conflict-of-interest-code acceptable to ABOS and have no ties, real or apparent, with commercial interests.
The specialty board shall set the requirements for certification in its specialty and the administrative of examinations and evaluation of qualifications of those seeking its certification.
The specialty board is expected to promote and improve the practice of the specialty it represents and to stimulate improved training and residency standards.
The specialty board, if accepted, shall have one voting member on the ABOS board of directors and thereby make recommendations to ABOS for enhancements in procedures and policies governing member boards.
The specialty board shall work to ensure that practice standards within the specialty are modified and revised as needed by established recommended standards of care.
The specialty board shall document it has the financial resources to conduct its operations and sufficient staff to effectively maintain its programs.
The specialty board shall show evidence of how it will ensure its evaluation procedures are clinically relevant and based on the knowledge, skills and art required of the specialty.
General Conditions Required of Residency Programs
- ABOS reserves the right to modify and adjust its criteria for specialty board membership to conform to advancements in the clinical practice of optometry and scopes of state optometry licensing laws. In this manner ABOS will maintain a uniform, national set of criteria for awarding membership that reflects the highest level of any state optometry licensing.
- ABOS shall, as appropriate for the profession of optometry, require accredited specialty residency training, passage of a national, standardized, written quantitative examination testing advanced competence in the specialty and the meeting of additional criteria determined by ABOS for its award of membership.
- Re-certification and maintenance of specialty competence will act to promote the advancement of knowledge in specialty optometry and the furthering of fellowship and harmonious relations among those practicing specialty optometry and their medical, dental, osteopathic and research colleagues involved with care of the human eye and visual functions.
- ABOS reserves the right to recognize non-ACOE residency programs as appropriate and to not recognize ACOE accredited residency programs that, in the opinion of ABOS Directors, do not adequately prepare residents to practice specialty optometry or fail to provide appropriate supervision and patient care training experiences.
- ABOS reserves the right to determine whether a particular residency program emphasizes and is chiefly a residency in the specialty. There continues to be a variety of names used to describe residency programs, of which some overlap in subject matter and lack specific, quantitative definitions. ABOS shall determine whether a residency program is a specific specialty residency irrespective of the name that may be attached to it.
- Applications from a specialty board with a residency program in a specialty that does not meet the resident supervision requirements specified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) for medical, osteopathic, and dental residents will not be accepted by the ABOS.
- ABOS will, as necessary, elect to accept applicants only from specialty boards that provide associated residents specified numbers of patient care encounters in specified types of specialty disorders, during residency and may require documentation attesting to the achievement of these numbers/types of patient encounters.
- ABOS reserves the right to require the chief medical officer of the health care facility operating a residency program in an optometry specialty, and/or the chief administrative officer of the academic facility operating a residency program in an optometry specialty, to certify in writing that their residents in optometry are held subject to the same level of supervision currently specified by CMS and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) regulations for supervision of medical, osteopathic and dental residents. Special attention must be made to ensure all billings to CMS for services or procedures provided by residents are governed by, and comply with, current CMS regulations.
- Optometry students often serve clinical clerkships at medical or academic facilities operating specialty optometry residency training programs and students may, at times, receive clinical guidance and supervision from optometry residents. ABOS reserves the right to require that any supervision of optometry students by residents in an optometry specialty be incidental and residents not be placed in an administrative responsibility for students or their training which can dilute a resident’s clinical training. ABOS requires the supervision of optometry students be the direct responsibility of a member of the medical or academic staff and such supervision be adherent to current CMS regulations regarding supervision of medical students and residents. ABOS requires residents in specialty optometry devote their attention to their training and not be utilized as “junior faculty”.
The specialty board shall maintain a website that clearly explains its certification responsibilities, descriptions of the procedures used in examination construction and reporting of results, summaries of specialty knowledge and skills expected of candidates.
The specialty board examination shall be offered no more than two times per calendar year and an annual report of pass-fail rates maintained on file with ABOS and available to the public.
The specialty board shall have an appeal process that allows for no more than two retakes of its written examination with each applicant’s test results maintained in confidence although a failing applicant will be given evidence of areas of weakness in their failed examination.
Recertification and Maintenance of Specialty Certification
The specialty board shall require all voluntary and non-specified Continuing Education (CE) requirements for license renewal pertain to the specialty and that its certification expires in 10 years. Prior to expiration of certification, re-passage of the specialty written examination will be required for recertification. At all times the specialist will be required to maintain a valid and current license to practice optometry, to report any adverse actions against his or her license and to submit the results of their self-report from the National Practitioner Data Bank 6 months prior to application for re-certification.
Responsibilities to ABOS
A membership specialty board shall:
- Undergo re-evaluation by ABOS every 6 years.
- Advise ABOS of changes in testing methods or scope of specialty practice.
- Inform ABOS of changes in structure or standards.
- Provide copies of all publications related to its certification process.