"Knowledgeable, educated paraoptometrics are critical for optometry. We lag other fields in leveraging doctor’s time. This will become even more critical as healthcare reform increases demand for services at reduced rates."
Peter Guhl, OD
Paraoptometric Recognition Week
Paraoptometric Recognition Week, (PRW) observed annually during the third week of September by the American Optometric Association Paraoptometric Section (AOAPS), is the only formal observance in the nation specifically intended to honor optometric practice staff. Paraoptometric Recognition Week is designed to honor paraoptometrics for their dedication to the patients they serve as well as to the profession of optometry. Moreover, the observance is designed to encourage paraoptometrics to think of themselves as professionals, take pride in their responsibilities, and pursue professional development.
Recognition of paraoptometry as a profession hinges on the strength of paraoptometric members and support of optometrists and other health care providers. By paraoptometrics seeking education, acquiring new skills and becoming certified, the high standards for the profession will challenge other support personnel who work within the profession to do the same. A certified paraoptometric demonstrates a commitment to the practice of paraoptometry by an increased level of competence and performance. Certified staff will enhance patient satisfaction, and increase the potential for additional referrals and revenue.
Roberta Beers, CPOT, Immediate past chair of the AOA Paraoptometric Section emphasizes that success of Paraoptometric Recognition Week depends on doctor participation.
"One of the easiest and most rewarding things an OD may do for his paraoptometric staff is recognize them for the important role they play in the success of the practice," Beers said. "When an OD demonstrates, by recognition, the value of their staff paraoptometrics begin to take stock in the future of the practice. The OD now has given them the opportunity to become a part of the success."
The AOA Paraoptometric Section suggests a variety of ways to celebrate the week, and provides Paraoptometric Recognition Week Promotional Kits free-of-charge to help in making plans for the observance. Kits may be requested by sending an e-mail to ParaRecognition@aoa.org.
Doctors are encouraged to be creative in planning their festivities. The Paraoptometric Sections provides some ideas for Recognizing and Rewarding Your Staff, as well as a few below:
- PS membership for all staff members
- treating staff to lunch or dinner
- utilizing AOA staff training resources
- gift certificates
- flowers or candy
The activity or gesture may be big or may be quietly expressed; either way, doctors are urged to participate in this opportunity to extend appreciation to paraoptometrics.
To learn more, click on these links for information on Paraoptometric Section Membership or Certification.
Some interesting facts about the paraoptometric profession and the Section:
- The AOA Paraoptometric Section was developed in 1978.
- The Section gains approximately 50 new members per month. The membership is made up of optometric assistants, technicians, front office staff and office managers, as well as opticians. Some staff is dually certified as optometric assistants and technicians as well as opticians, NCLE, COA, and COT. All allied health personnel are welcome members of the Section.
- The top 5 most used AOA PS benefits are AOA Publications,(63.9%), Free Online CE articles (57.3%), PS newsletter (46.7%), certification prep materials (33%), and Paraoptometric Skill Builder - Online training program (25.8%)
- The top 5 most valuable PS member benefits are Online CE articles (87.4%), Paraoptometric Skill Builder (57.2%), certification prep materials (54.2%), Discounts on educational materials (45.2%), Education modules (43.7%)
- 75 percent of the membership is certified by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification.
- In the 2011 member survey, 44.2 percent said they worked for Practice owner- Small Group (2-4 doctors, not affiliated with a regional/national optical company) with 27.6 percent having 20+ years of professional experience. 74 percent of members view their job as a career where professional growth is available.
- 77 percent of employers encouraged participation in local, state, and/or national paraoptometric associations, while 64.9 percent of employers pay all financial participation in such organizations.
- 43.8 percent of employers are strong supporters of continuing education programs for their optometric staff, paying for all expenses, including travel, registration & meals for continuing education/training.
For more information, or to view the full survey check out the Active Paraoptometric (PS) Member Survey 2011.