Optometric Recognition Award Program

The Optometric Recognition Award Program (ORA), established in 1975 by the House of Delegates, encourages doctors of optometry to pursue continuing education beyond the requirements of state licensing boards. The first award was presented at the 1980 AOA Congress, the event now called Optometry’s Meeting™.

Who is Eligible for this Program?

The program is open to all licensed optometrists. Currently, 2,180 doctors of optometry are enrolled in the ORA program, and 1,751 of them have earned their Initial Optometric Recognition Award.

What are the Initial Award Requirements?

To get started, complete the Initial Award Application and send an enrollment fee of $40.00 which covers direct costs for the ORA Certificate and office procedures.  Once enrolled, your Initial Award enrollment fee continues in force until the Initial Award has been received.

To qualify to receive the ORA award, you must complete 150 AOA approved credit hours of optometric continuing education over the three consecutive year period prior to the award year. The award requirements, however, may be completed in less time.  The ORA “year” begins January 1 and ends December 31 of each year claimed. When you enroll in the ORA Program, you will receive an Initial Award Request Form and a Record of Credit Hours Form to log your hours.

Upon meeting the requirements for the Initial Award, submit the Initial Award Request Form, and Record of Credit Hours Form no later than March 31st of the Award Year. AOA will review, evaluate and process the forms and notify you as to your status.  The Award is granted in the year following the year of completion of the requirements.

A photo session is scheduled during Optometry's Meeting® for all ORA award recipients to have their picture taken with the AOA President. Those ORA recipients who participate in the photo session will receive a color print of their photo along with a news release that may be customized and sent to their local newspaper.

Who are AOA Approved Providers?

Providers of continuing education, not courses or speakers, are approved. The provider of a continuing education program is the organization assuming the responsibility for organizing, administering, publicizing and presenting the program.

Schools and colleges of optometry, state optometric boards and state optometric associates are among the list of AOA approved providers. A copy of the approved provider list will be sent to all optometrists upon their enrollment in the ORA program.

The ORA Program reserves the right to evaluate all credits claimed by participants and to disallow credits, at its discretion, to those who do not fulfill the criteria, as herein described. Participants will be notified in all cases where there is a need for clarification of credits or if disqualified for any reason.

What Types of Learning Experiences Qualify for the Initial Award?

Five categories designed to cover a variety of learning experiences are approved for the Award. The categories are the same for the Initial and the Continuing Award but the hours required for each award differ.

Category 1: A minimum of 90 hours of Continuing Education (CE) must be taken from AOA approved providers to qualify for the Initial Award. All 150 hours may be from Category 1 providers.

Category 2: A maximum of 30 hours of CE may be taken from non-approved providers (providers not on the AOA list).

Category 3: A maximum of 30 hours of CE may be earned through formal and informal optometric teaching.

Category 4: A maximum of 25 hours of CE credit may be earned for writing and presenting papers, presenting lectures and writing articles and books for publication. Material must appear in a recognized professional publication or be presented to an audience of optometrists or other allied health personnel. Credit is given as of the date of publication or presentation of the material.

Category 5: A maximum of 25 hours of CE credit may be earned through non-supervised individual Continuing Optometric Education. This category consists of the following:

  1. Self-Education
    1. Non-supervised use of audiovisual materials.
    2. Participation in a non-supervised study group.
    3. Use of teaching machines, computers, or other programmed optometric educational materials.
    4. Reading of optometric publications such as journals, papers, etc.
  2. Patient Care Review

    Credit may be awarded for participation in the review and evaluation of patient care. This includes peer review, case conferences, etc.
  3. Specialty Group Presentation

    Credit may be awarded for preparation for admission to optometric scientific groups such as the American Academy of Optometry.

NOTE: Courses approved for Category 1 by the AMA in the Physician’s Recognition Award Program are also considered Category 1 by ORA.

Transcript quality courses offered by an accredited institution of higher learning will be given double credit hours for ORA purposes upon successful completion of the course and exam.  Proof of course completion is required to receive double credit for transcript quality courses.

What are the Continuing Award Requirements?

Initial Award recipients are encouraged to continue in the ORA Program through the Continuing Award Program. AOA will send you a Continuing Award Request Form and a Record of Credit Hours Form upon receipt of your completed Program Renewal Application and $20 renewal fee.

To qualify for the Continuing Award, you must complete a minimum of 50 hours of continuing optometric education with at least 30 hours from Category 1. The remaining 20 hours needed to qualify for the Continuing Award can be obtained in one or more of categories 2, 3, 4 or 5, with no minimum hours for any one category. The categories are the same as for the Initial Award.