Help optometric staff earn certification in 2017
Paraoptometric certification can make a career, says Sally Greeley, CPOT, senior practice resource manager at Smart EyeCare Center, based in Augusta, Maine.
All the training I have done over the years makes me a valuable asset to the practice.
Consider Greeley herself. AOA's 2017 Paraoptometric of the Year, Greeley started working on her various certifications in 1999. Over the years, she has accessed the Paraoptometric Resource Center (PRC) tools to prepare for and schedule her certification examinations. She hoped to advance her career, as well as better serve the practice and patients in Maine.
"I think all the training I have done over the years makes me a valuable asset to the practice," Greeley says. The AOA offers four certified programs for optometric staff. Each program requires successful completion of an examination prepared and administered by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC), with the assistance of Professional Testing Corporation.
Below are the remaining application deadlines for paraoptometric certification and the two-week testing periods when the examinations will be given in 2017:
Application deadlines: July 3 (9 p.m. EST) and Oct. 3 (9 p.m. EST)
Testing periods: Aug. 12-26 and Nov. 4-18
Applications to take the exams are available on the AOA's website. Late applications are not accepted. Those who hold a designation of Certified Paraoptometric (CPOTM), Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOATM) or Certified Paraoptometric Technician (CPOTTM) must earn a minimum of 18 hours in continuing education (CE) every three years and provide proof of this CE credit to the CPC by Nov. 1 of their renewal year.
Those who hold a Paraoptometric Coding Certification (CPOCTM) must earn a minimum of nine hours in CE every three years and provide proof of this CE credit to the CPC by May 31 of their renewal year. Renewal dates are based on the year in which they attained their current certification level or the year in which they most recently renewed their current certification status. The renewal year may be found on the current certificate.
AOA member benefit
The AOA's certification program is one of the benefits of AOA membership for doctors of optometry. They can enroll their paraoptometric staff as associate members—at no additional membership dues for the AOA-member doctor. Once enrolled as associate members, doctors' staff members automatically have access to the PRC's career development resources, including education and training tools. Greeley earned her CPOT in 2013. Her education and training have paid off for herself and the practice where she has worked for more than 20 years.
"I am able to problem solve with patients if they have concerns, whether it's issues with their eyeglasses, contacts or billing," she says. "I don't usually have to pass the call to someone else, unless I don't have the answer myself. With all my training, I can do a better job and have more confidence in my job performance."
How can doctors help staff develop their skills?
1. Ensure staff members meet the deadlines to take their certification examinations. The deadlines can come up quickly for CPO, CPOA or CPOT. Learn more.
2. Remind paraoptometric staff they can earn free CE credits. Paraoptometrics may earn six free continuing education credits by reading articles covering a broad range of topics on patient care. To receive CE credit, paraoptometrics must review each article, complete its accompanying quiz and submit the results online. Learn more.
3. Enroll paraoptometrics—at no additional costs—as AOA associate members. As associate members, paraoptometrics can access many AOA educational and training programs. They also are eligible for discounts on educational materials and registration fees for Optometry's Meeting® and other benefits. Doctors may enroll their staff members online, but will need a paraoptometric's legal name, date of birth and unique email address. Learn more.
To access various study resources, go to firstname.lastname@example.org and click on the topic "staff certification (para)."