Improving patient care with certified paraoptometric staff members
Certified paraoptometrics (CPOs) not only play an important role in patient care, they're also integrally involved in office management and efficiency.
Southern Eye Care in Clinton, Mississippi, is among a small but growing number of optometric practices in the country that are 100% paraoptometric certified. According to a recent AOA survey, only 11% of practices nationwide can make this claim.
However, that same survey revealed that 44% of doctors who own practices plan to have their staff certified within the 2015 calendar year.
Why focus on paraoptometrics?
Southern Eye Care's Joshua C. Massey, O.D., believes the benefits are twofold: "I've noticed a big morale shift since all of my paraoptometrics have been certified. Now that they have expanded their working knowledge of optometry, they are more able to really consult with me on how to triage and better handle presenting patient symptoms. The clinic as a whole runs in a more efficient manner because everyone is on the same page."
In addition, Dr. Massey says having a 100% certified practice is advantageous from the public's perspective.
"Having all of my staff certified lets everyone know that our clinic is dedicated to the highest level of patient care and satisfaction. And the CPO designation is tangible proof of that," says Dr. Massey.
Not only does the certification increase the patient's level of care and enhance the office reputation, it also can be beneficial for staff members' further career development, says Evelyn Horton, a certified paraoptometric assistant, a certified paraoptometric assistant and office manager of Southern Eye Care.
"Becoming certified in paraoptometry has improved many of my day-to-day tasks at work, such as fitting glasses and doing pre-examination workups, by providing me with the knowledge that is vital to our patients," says Horton.
Tami Franklin, chair of the AOA Commission on Paraoptometric Certification and a certified paraoptometric technician , sees the importance for the certification in the ever-changing health care world.
"With health care reform taking hold, the optometric practice will rely on the skills of the paraoptometric even more. Having practices with 100% certified staff will increase the skill level as they attain higher levels of certification. It will also increase communication between doctor and paraoptometric as well as between paraoptometric and patient. A 100% staff-certified practice sets a high standard of patient care."
Linda Rodriguez, chair of the Paraoptometric Resource Center Executive Committee and a certified paraoptometric, agrees.
"Optometric practices with 100% paraoptometric certification stand out as delivering the highest quality of care to their patients. Not only does it impact the particular practice and its patients but it also elevates the image of optometry. Having certified paraoptometrics brings the professional practice to a more competitive level and solidifies the profession by demonstrating its commitment to providing outstanding eye care."
Read more about the expanding role of staff in the September 2014 edition of AOA Focus.
Visit the AOA website to learn more about paraoptometric certifications and to find out if your staff members are eligible.
September marks Paraoptometric Appreciation Month, the only formal observance dedicated to honor optometric practice staff. Three ways for doctors to honor their staff and for paraoptometrics to advance their careers.