I am writing to offer a "heads up" with regard to the pending vote on Board Certification for optometric practice. Whether an O.D. endores or disproves the JBCPT model, our reality is that we have obligated our profession to establish a recognized Board Certification mechanism. Optometry now needs Board Certification to maintain credibility in our legislative negotiations and battles.
Respected optometric leaders have repeatedly documented their views that "Board Certification", "post-licensure competence", and "continuing competence" are closely related and mutually-interdependent terms. We have written and stated this view on the record. If we now vote not to establish formal Board Certification, we have provided Optometry's detractors with mountains of ammunition to use against us. We optometrists chose ourselves to equate "proof of competence" with "Board certified." And we did it over and over again. My deep concern is that failure to establish a Board certifying process will prove a huge liability, in our very near future.
My recent experiences providing testimony before a House subcommittee in South Carolina offered positive proof that organized medicine is already pointing to lack of Board Certification to support their arguement that optometrists are inadequately trained, and that lack of education becomes even more of an issue subsequent to our graduation and licensure. They point to their own Board Certified status, and tell the legislators this credential proves the superiority of their educational experience.
If now, after all we have said about the significance of Board Certification, Optometry consciously decides not to pursue a recognized means for accomplishing it, Board Certification will become our profession's achille's heel in all debates relating to scope of practice and/or reimbursement. In my opinion, Optometry made this bed, and now we darn better be prepared to sleep in it. Approving Board Certification has never been more important.