For the fifth consecutive year, CIBA Vision, A Novartis Company has provided the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification with a grant to help support certification. These grant funds enable the CPC to keep costs to a minimum and contribute to the ongoing success and future developments of certification.
Message from the Chair
Optometry 2020 – Summit #3 CONCLUSIONS
The excitement taking place at the third and final session of the 2020 summit just concluded was apparent. Along with twenty two other identified groups and organizations affiliated with the AOA, the Commission came up with a prioritized list of “futures” that will be addressed, leading us into the world of eyecare by the year 2020.
A major conclusion agreed upon by CPC concerned the human resource area and the future statement is as follows:
“Eye care delivery is enhanced by coordinated training of optometrists and staff to support increased delegation and efficiency.”
The certification of paraoptometrics is a positive step toward this goal. Our charge will be to work with the Schools and Colleges of Optometry, the American Optometric Association, the Paraoptometric Section and others to make this happen. Practicing optometrists will need to be convinced of the value of having a certified paraoptometric to whom he/she can delegate tasks. The process will need to begin in the clinics of the Schools and Colleges of Optometry where optometrists and paraoptometrics will be educated.
Another preferred goal and future statement was agreed to as follows:
“Optometrists have access to uniformly trained and qualified staff. There should be a national standard for a web based core curriculum and testing process for certification of an ophthalmic physician assistant. There will be a tiered approach that encompasses multiple levels of education and competency.”
The Commission already has a tiered approach that encompasses multiple levels of education and competency. The certified paraoptometric technician (CPOT) level is an example, designating our current highest level of competency. It will be necessary to work with the educational programs to increase their numbers and to work with the paraoptometric educators in order to accomplish this goal. CPC will continue the testing process to verify competency. Consideration will need to be given to promoting the education embracing all of the new technologies and procedures performed by the assistant. Web based programs will be an emphasis area.
The professions of optometry will emerge strong and vital as they work together providing much needed eye and vision care to the public in the year 2020.
Alvin Levin, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Chair – Commission on Paraoptometric Certification
Ask the Expert
Ask the expert is an article that is included in every issue of the CPC Newsletter. The CPC welcomes your questions and urges you to submit your questions to CPC@aoa.org.
Question: Does the Optometric Assistant have a good future?
Answer: Having just returned from the final 2020 Summit where twenty two allied organizations discussed the future for the profession, I can tell you that the future is very positive for the paraoptometric. There was not the slightest doubt that the doctor of optometry will need to delegate tasks in order to provide routine tasks in the office. With emerging technologies, the optometrist will be utilizing diagnostic data that will enhance decision making and allow him/her to accurately prescribe a course of treatment.
Example of technologies:
- A/B Scan ultrasound
- Anterior Segment pictures
- Automated Perimetry
- Fundus/Retinal Camera
- Optic Nerve Head Analyzer
These and many more will be the purview of the paraoptometric in the optometric office, gathering important diagnostic data for the optometrist to consider in the care of the patient.
The FUTURE is very bright for the paraoptometric (optometric assistant).
Notice: Responses printed in the “Ask the Expert” column are the opinion of one individual and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification.
Additionally, the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification does not endorse any particular continuing education provider.
Gearing Up for Certification Examinations
You have made the decision to become certified. Now what? Where do you start? What do you study? What information is important? These questions are frequently asked. The following information may be used as a guideline to get you through the certification process.
|Certified Paraoptometric (CPO)
|The Certified Paraoptometric (CPO) examination is the entry-level examination for those beginning their careers in the field of optometric eyecare. When you register and remit funds for this examination, you will receive a study guide containing general information about optometry, optometric procedures, and terminology. While you read the study guide, it may be helpful to take notes on topics that are difficult to remember or comprehend. Then, you can review your questions with your optometrist or someone else who can be of help. Only topics covered in the study guide are included on the examination, so additional study materials are not required. The 100 multiple-choice questions on the examination are derived from the information in each chapter in the study guide. For example, a question may ask you to identify something (i.e. myopia- the eye is too long), or define (i.e. itis- means inflammation).
|Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)
|The Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA) examination is designed for those who have experience in the field of optometry and optometric procedures. The AOA Paraoptometric Section Self Study Course for Paraoptometric Certification is a possible source that may be used to study for this examination. Use the outline as a guide to direct you to the information in the text that you need to study. As with the CPO examination, the CPOA questions will cover general principles, procedures, and definitions pertaining to optometry. Remember that there are only so many things that can be asked about a procedure. Be familiar with what the test is used for, the test distance, equipment used, one eye or both eyes and recording.
|Certified Paraoptometric Technician (CPOT)
The Certified Paraoptometric Technician (CPOT) examination is designed for those who have an advanced general and comprehensive working knowledge of optometry. Not only will you be asked to define a procedure, you will also be asked to problem solve. For example, you may be asked to determine the results of procedures (e.g. Goldmann tonometry readings and mire appearance). You may be asked to apply your knowledge base to certain situations and derive the correct answer. This is a test of cognitive skills and requires interpretation of data.
You should have experience performing procedures such as lensometry, pre-examination procedures, visual fields, etc. The AOA Paraoptometric Section Self Study Course for Paraoptometric Certification, System for Ophthalmic Dispensing (Brooks and Borish), and The Ophthalmic Assistant (Stein and Slatt) include information that could be helpful while studying for the CPOT examination.
The practical portion of the examination follows an itemized checklist. The checklist sheet directions may be different from how you have customarily performed a particular procedure, so please make sure you follow the check off sheet directions provided as the examination proctor is instructed to follow the checklist for evaluation purposes.
You can find a complete outline of subject matter for each examination on the AOA Web site (www.aoa.org). The outline for each level examination displays the percentage of questions pertaining to the particular subject matter.
I hope this information has been helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact the CPC at CPC@aoa.org.
CPC in the News
The Commission on Paraoptometric Certification is proud to congratulate CPOT Debra Bourgoin for submitting the highest number of acceptable continuing education hours by the July 1, 2006 deadline for the 2006 certification renewal cycle and thus becoming the winner of a Dell Axim PDA. Debra Bourgoin lives in Sabattus, Maine with her husband Lenny and two college-bound children, Nate and Danielle. Debra is employed by Drs. Pauline Beale and Douglas Henry at Optometric Associates in Lewiston, ME. For the past 3 years Debra has been the Optical Manager for the office. For thirteen years prior to that she worked as an optician at a single doctor practice.
The education “bug” bit Debra about 6 years ago when she sat for the first level of certification, the Certified Paraoptometric. Six months later, she attended the American Optometric Association Congress (Optometry’s Meeting ™) in New Orleans and sat for the CPOA exam. Shortly afterwards, Debra decided to continue her quest for knowledge and certifications and sat for the American Board of Opticianry exam. When the Maine Paraoptometric Association sponsored the certified paraoptometric multi-weekend preparatory courses in 2003, Debra decided it was perfect timing to pursue the CPOT certification. The following year Debra took the National Contact Lens exam. Currently, Debra’s official title is Debra Bourgoin, CPOT, ABOC, NCLC. Debra says she is very proud of each and every one of her certifications.
Starting as a Member at Large and currently holding the office of Vice President and newsletter editor for the Maine Paraoptometric Association, Debra realizes the importance of education. The Association membership has grown substantially over the past several years due to the quality of education that the Maine chapter has been able to obtain through its diligence in seeking out educators. For example, the MPA’s spring meeting featured Drs. Gurwood and Myers who literally brought anatomy to life with a cow eye dissection workshop. Each participant was able to dissect the eye and examine the amazing structure.
Debra comments that when she started working 16 years ago, she was just working and doing her job. Today she feels that she is an intricate part of the optometric office, that she has a career, not a “job”. Although it has been a challenge balancing work, home and educational pursuits, Debra feels that working in optometry has also been a truly rewarding experience in both her personal and professional life.
The AOA Paraoptometric Section's Self Study Course for Paraoptometric Certification, 2nd Edition, and corresponding self-assessment examination offers a unique and convenient opportunity to not only study for the Certified Paraoptometric Assistant exam, but also earn continuing education credit. The Self Study Course textbook is a 15 chapter book providing an overview of many important areas in an optometric practice. The self-assessment exam includes 301 multiple choice questions on information covered in the Self Study Course textbook, and may be completed in a convenient timeframe. After completion, you can mail the self-assessment examination to the Paraoptometric Section office in St. Louis for grading. Participants who answer 200 questions correctly will receive 24 hours of continuing education credit and a certificate of achievement. Once a paraoptometric is certified at any level, he or she must obtain 18 hours of approved CE credit to maintain certification designation. Please note, the Self Study Course for Paraoptometric Certification, 2nd Edition, is currently being updated and an addendum containing updated text will accompany all textbook orders, free of charge. The current Self Assessment Exam will correspond with content covered in the textbook, not the binder.
If you are interested in receiving continuing education credit or if you would like to expand your knowledge about a specific topic, then the AOA Paraoptometric Section has the resources for you.
The education modules have been designed in an easy-to-use automated, audio Power Point format, perfect for at-home or in-office study. Staff can participate in the lecture portion of the course and then download the CE exam for individual use. The cost of each module is $35.00 for AOA members, $50.00 for non-members, or $105.00 for all four CDs. Also, a per use fee for the actual CE exam will be required. Topics include Advanced Ophthalmic Dispensing, Special Procedures, Anatomy and Physiology, and Practice Management. Also, look for two new topics in 2007, including the ABC’s of Optical Dispensing and Contacts and Solutions for Today’s Patient.
Practice Management 101
The "Practice Management 101" module was designed to train new staff to better understand their impact on the optometric team. Additionally, this course would be ideal for senior staff as a review for proper practice management procedures. This module explains how each team member affects overall efficiency, profitability, and quality patient care. The course objectives are:
- Build a successful practice
- Learn how to assist in strategic business plan development
- Learn how to develop a personnel manual
- Learn about the recruitment process
- Learn how to motivate staff
- Learn the basics of financial statements and budgeting
- Learn the business of billing, coding, credentialing, and records management
- Provide a general overview of marketing
- Learn how to increase clinic efficiency and profitability
- Learn various managerial roles
Many times, an optometric assistant's job requires the ability to identify and solve a variety of eyewear problems. Effectively working with ophthalmic prescriptions requires the assistant to blend the art of understanding the patients' needs along with the science of ophthalmic lenses. The ideal to which all dispensers should aspire is to anticipate and avoid problems before they occur. When something unexpected occurs however, the assistant must be able to isolate and correct the problem. At times, the correction will require a remake, but often the solution rests with a minor adaptation to the existing eyewear. This course is designed for the paraoptometric with one to three years of experience in the dispensary. The learning objectives "Ophthalmic Dispensing" are:
- Describe the electromagnetic wave theory and how it applies to and effects human vision
- Locate and diagram lens power in any given meridian of a lens
- Diagram and explain parts and characteristics of a prism
- Describe how combinations of prisms relate to lenses
- Compute prismatic effect and base direction of a given lens
- Explain the function of a lens clock and distometer
- Explain the effects of vertex changes for plus and minus lenses
- Transpose any prescription from + to - cylinder or from - to + cylinder form
Anatomy and Physiology
As an eyecare professional, basic knowledge of ocular anatomy and function is a necessity to providing quality eycare for patients. This course will describe the various anatomy concepts involving how the eye works, explain eye disorders and diseases, and illustrate how vision occurs. The learning objectives of this course are:
- Identify the major parts of the eye
- Understand the function of the ocular components
- Understand common eye disorders and treatment methods
- Understand how vision occurs
- Define different types of refractive conditions
Special procedures are considered an important area of learning for optometric assistants or technicians within the first two to four years of on-the-job training. This module will discuss the most commonly delegated procedures from optometrist to paraoptometric. When performing these tasks, it is important that the paraoptometric gather patient data for the optometrist to utilize in diagnosis and treatment. The learning objectives of this course are:
- Explain different contact lens options for a varying patient base, wearing modalities, and care and handling recommendations.
- Understanding of normal and abnormal symptoms associated with contact lens wear will also be presented.
- Define topography, visual field testing, tonometry, ophthalmic ultrasonography, pachymetry, sphygmomanometry, and first aid.
Upcoming Examination Schedule