from the AOA Commission
on Paraoptometric Certification
In This Issue
from the Chair
It has been an exciting and busy year this 2004, and things are still heating up. We are in the process of completing one of the most successful years in Paraoptometric history. As 2004 grows to a close, our number of certified paraoptometrics is fast approaching the 6,500 mark. This is extremely motivating for us on the CPC, but I personally believe we can do even better with your help. I believe we can increase our numbers for 2005 by promoting not only our certification, but the doctors and the paraoptometrics that are assisting us. Here are a few ways the CPC is moving forward with the certification process:
- Developed subcommittees in
- Education Approval
- Assistant/Technician Programs Project Team
Practical Test Development
- Schools of Optometry
- State Affiliates
- Career Day planners
Accomplishments of the staff are included but not limited to:
- Streamlined the process and developed strategic future sites
- Recent test sites included Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Florida
- Web site updates
- CPC Faq sheet
- Sub-committee formation
- Processing 100% of all new applicants for certification
- Geographical data used in Strategic planning and forecasting
- Attendance at major Conferences to sell certification
- Budget management and planning
What can you do to help? Get the word out to all those in the field. Support your doctors, your patients and your staff in making our profession the best in the medical field. A quote taken from the Army, "Be all that you can be".
We are striving to improve the certification process and the volunteers working on the CPC have been devoted and motivated in advancing our cause. They will never quit or waver until the task is complete. Though this has been a year of personal tragedy and hardship for some of our members, they have persevered and produced one of the most productive years in Paraoptometric history.
We are looking forward to increasing the number of certified personnel in our organization, but more than that, we are interested in increasing the outlook on our profession. Please continue being the highly skilled, trained professionals that you are and we will all benefit.
Lynn Lawrence, CPOT
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: Do you think it is important to spend valuable time with company representatives?
Answer: Believe it or not, company representatives can be a valuable asset to the paraoptometric. Granted, it often seems like an imposition to take the time to talk with a rep, but you never know what it could mean to your practice. It would be to your advantage to request a specific appointment for a date and time of the visit, and most reps will be happy to honor such a request.
Think positive in terms of the company representative helping you to have the knowledge of the products and services that are available. By having this knowledge, you will be able to provide the care necessary to satisfy the patient's needs. Information about lens types, frame colors and sizes, various contact lens availability, special optical products and state of the art equipment and supplies can add to your ability to provide comprehensive care. The more able you are to satisfy the complete needs of your patient, the more satisfied your patient will be. Clearly, this would be a practice builder. So, welcome the sales representatives and learn as much as you can about what he/she has to offer.
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.
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Announces 2004 Schedule
||St. Petersburg/Ft. Lauderdale
||St. Louis/Kansas City
||Raleigh (February only)
||Salt Lake City
|Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Wyoming Paraoptometric Association
|Oct. 2 / Aug. 21
Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians
|Oct. 10 / Aug.
Great Western Council of Optometry
|Oct. 16 / Sep.
East West Eye Conference
|Oct. 17 / Sep.
|Atlantic City, New Jersey
|Oct. 31 / Sep. 19
Kentucky Optometric Association
|Nov. 7 / Sep.
|Asheville, North Carolina
North Carolina Optometric Association
|Nov. 13 / Oct.
Mississippi Optometric Association
|Nov. 21 / Oct. 10
|Regionals - see above chart
||Dec. 4 / Oct.
Regional Dates: February 12; April 16; August 20; December 3
Coming Soon! Updated Locations
an examination application and handbook for
candidates from the AOA web site!
Follow-Up: Optometry's Meeting
Once again, the CPC Breakfast function at Optometry's Meeting was a success!
The event included an overview and update of the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification activities by Lynn Lawrence, CPOT, Chair of the Commission. Billie Taylor, CPOT facilitated the introductions of those who provided testimonials.
Dr. Richard Wallingford (right), AOA President-Elect discussed his history with the Certification program. Dr. Wallingford was the appointed AOA liaison trustee to the then National Council on Paraoptometric Certification. He was instrumental in leading the CPC to autonomy and provided incredible support to those serving. Since then, Dr. Wallingford has encouraged paraoptometrics in his state of Maine to become certified. As a result, the total of Certified Paraoptometrics in Maine represents 55.4 percent of its AOA members in the state. Dr. Wallingford also stated, "knowledge is power and certification proves it."
Susan Henry, CPOT (left) of Virginia, stated that "an educated assistant is a happy assistant." Ms. Henry indicated that certification provided her with the knowledge to provide the best patient care and that "certification is just the beginning."
Dr. Carol Brown (right) of Ohio discussed her roots with optometry having initially served on the AOA Paraoptometric Section Council as a Paraoptometric Council Member. She was inspired as a Paraoptometric and later went on to pursue her optometry degree. Dr. Brown challenged the audience to go back to their states and inspire others. She stated, "mentoring is a responsibility and I believe in achievement."
Grace Martin, CPOT (left) of Maine discussed starting her career as a Paraoptometric in 1988 and that certification has made her more confident and enhanced her job performance. Grace is a past president of the Maine Paraoptometric Association, Inc.
Patricia Schneider, CPOT, CPC Member, provided final remarks and indicated that "certification announces to the world that they are able to provide the best possible patient care."
2003-04 CPC Annual Report
Report of the AOA Commission on Paraoptometric Certification
2003-2004 Year End
The members of the 2003-04 Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC) are Lynn Lawrence, CPOT, Chair; Alvin Levin, O.D., Vice Chair; Patricia Schneider, CPOT and Billie Taylor, CPOT, members; Mary Jameson, CPOT and Cheryl Bruce, CPOT, consultants; and William Samuels, Public Member. Joe E. Ellis, O.D. is the AOA liaison trustee to the Commission. Darlene Byrd is the administrator and Kim Dixon is the administrative assistant for the CPC.
For the fourth consecutive year, the CPC has been generously sponsored by CIBA Vision, a Novartis Company.
This has been a very exciting and productive year for the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification. I would like to start by giving accolades to Darlene Byrd and Kim Dixon, for without their assistance, none of this would have happened.
Our attendance at the National Organization for Competency Assurance had the greatest impact upon our means and methods for testing and certification. The information gathered from the trip opened the door to a streamlined testing process, an improved outreach to our stakeholders and a better understanding for accreditation with competency assurance. This was, without doubt, the most significant event of the year.
We, through the efforts spearheaded by Billie Taylor, CPOT, have revamped the CPOT and CPOA written test. Further efforts are ongoing for rewriting and adding test questions at all levels. The CPC has enlisted technicians throughout the Air Force to assist in this process, which should prove to be very beneficial. In addition, we are redesigning the written test handbooks and test guidelines. This has been a very busy year in testing at all levels; the results are remarkable.
The Practical testing process has made a significant improvement by streamlining and deploying the process to regional test sites. The streamlining of the process saved approximately 40% of the previous required expenses. The practical exam has become very popular, and requests and demands are consistently increasing. This process is new, and consistently being improved to meet current trends in the field of optometry.
The CPC has aggressively pursued national accreditation through NCCA. During the process we discovered key issues surrounding our testing process. Through the efforts of Dr. Al Levin, Darlene, and Bill Samuels we are well on our way to our national accreditation.
Dr. Levin and Darlene have developed a marketing strategy that will engage all of our stakeholders and place certification testing on the front line of state and regional organizations. We are putting our best efforts forward in marketing certification, and the results are already staggering.
For Optometry's Meeting, we are making efforts to develop a CPC Strategic Plan that will enhance our efforts in developing certification testing to even higher levels. We will incorporate all areas of certification in an outlined plan that will develop testing at all levels in as many locations as possible. This plan will also focus on all of our stakeholders (i.e. AOA/BOT, Paraoptometric Section, Indian Health Services, Veterans Administration, Public Health Service, ACOE Schools, State and Regional Associations, Optometrists and the General Public) for maximum impact.
This has been a banner year and we expect a more productive year in 2005.
2003-04 Commission Accomplishments and Activities
- Revised and streamlined the CPOT Practical Examination to three testing stations rather than the previous five testing stations.
- Total number of certified individuals rose 50% from year-end 2002 to year-end 2003.
- Conducted first annual Commission breakfast event at the 106th Annual AOA Congress in San Diego, CA. Advances and successes were communicated and testimonials were provided by guest speaker optometrists and certified paraoptometrics.
- CPC instituted new criteria for the CPOA applicants to include experience criteria and/or advanced certification holders.
- Administered the first state organized CPOT practical examination for the Maine Paraoptometric Association, Inc.
- Provided written examinations at the following AOA State Affiliate and AOA recognized Regional/International optometric organizations or other:
- August 2003 — CPC Regional Sites
- October 2003 — Michigan Paraoptometric Assn.; Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians; Wyoming Paraoptometric Assn.; Great Western Council of Optometry; East/West Eye Conference; and the Iowa Optometric Assn.
- November 2003 — Mississippi Optometric Assn. and Armed Forces Optometric Society
- December 2003 — Maine Paraoptometric Assn.; South Carolina Optometric Association; Hurlburt AFB; CPC Regional Sites
- February 2004 — Delaware Optometric Assn.; Southern Educational Council of Optometry; and CPC Regional Sites
- March 2004 — New Jersey Paraoptometric Assn.; and Washington Paraoptometric Assn.
- April 2004 — Iowa Optometric Assistants Association and CPC Regional Sites
- Examinations are scheduled for the remainder of the 2003-2004 administrative year as follows:
- May 2004 — Arizona Optometric Assn.
- June 2004 — New Hampshire Paraoptometric Assn.; Pennsylvania Paraoptometric Assn.; and Optometry's Meeting (includes CPOT Practical Exam)
- The CPOT Practical examinations were administered in San Diego, CA (in conjunction with the 106th annual AOA Congress), June 2003 and in Portland, ME (Maine Paraoptometric Assn., Inc.), December 2003.
- The CPC conducted three business meetings in 2003-04. The September 2003 fall meeting was held in St. Louis, the February 2004 winter meeting was held in Atlanta during the 2004 SECO convention, and the April 2004 spring meeting was held in St. Louis in conjunction with the AOA Spring Planning Convention. The annual meeting was June 23-27, 2004 in Orlando.
Candidates Testing in 2003-04
(July 2003-March 2004)
Percent of Candidates Passing in 2003-04
(July 2003-March 2004)
Percent of Candidates Failing in 2003-04
(July 2003-March 2004)
NOTE: The above data represents only examinations administered through March 2004. Results of April, May, and June examinations were not available at the time the annual report was printed.
New Certification Logo Approved!
The AOA Board of Trustees approved and supported the use of a CPC logo. The CPC has taken initial steps to differentiate this certification program by continuing to offer the only certification available for paraoptometrics and seeks to make this experience valuable and desirable for all interested participants. The CPC has designed a logo that will be used to clearly and consistently communicate the importance of certification.
Beginning July 1, 2004, all candidates who successfully pass the CPO, CPOA, or CPOT written examination will receive the new certificate. This indicates that those who passed in June 2004 will or have received the former certificate. In the near future, the CPC will be allowing certified personnel to purchase the new version. Look for future announcements!
And, while you proudly display your certificate, why not include a new frame and custom AOA Commission on Paraoptometric Certification matting! The AOA CPC has contracted with a distributor to provide you with quality frames and customized matting at a reduced price. See below for details!
|Click on the image for enlarged view
Gearing Up For Certification Examinations
Billie Taylor, CPOT
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.
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).
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, test distance, equipment used, one eye or both eyes and recording.
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.
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CONGRATULATIONS to the new
Certified Paraoptometrics (CPO’s) listed
below. Each passed the CPO examination between
March and June, 2003:
Sufian Kalil Allotaibi
Sijimol Vadakkan Ittira
Jodi St Saviour
Vision has sponsored the AOA Paraoptometric
Certification program since 2000.
This program owes its success to the volunteers
and the generous sponsorship of CIBA Vision.