Make your practice shine in 2020 through paraoptometric certification

September 21, 2020
Doctors of optometry may 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 Paraoptometric Resource Center's career development resources.
Paraoptometric certification

Paraoptometric certification is not only an internal validation of staff expertise but also a wholly external investment in the future of your optometry practice.

“Patients are reassured that the practice is devoted to providing excellent care with the assistance of paraoptometrics who demonstrate knowledge, confidence and professionalism,” says Linda Rodriguez, CPO, AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee chair.

“Practice excellence can be measured by the level of commitment and training of their paraoptometrics.”

As optometric scope of practice continues to allow doctors of optometry to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training in order to meet the increasing demands on the U.S. health care system, paraoptometrics shouldn’t be overlooked. Increased responsibilities, procedures and demands on doctors of optometry translate into a greater need for proven, skilled support on the part of paraoptometric staff. And that’s where paraoptometric certification comes into play.

A program developed by a panel of AOA doctors of optometry and paraoptometrics, paraoptometric certification ensures practice staff stay up to date with the latest in continuing education and professional development as the field of optometric assisting grows. With four levels of certification for optometric staff, each program requires successful completion of an exam prepared and administered by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC), with the assistance of Professional Testing Corporation, to ensure sufficient mastery of the skillsets. Those certifications include: 

  • Certified paraoptometric (CPO). An entry-level certification that demonstrates understanding of the concepts used in optometric care.
  • Certified paraoptometric assistant (CPOA). An intermediate certification that demonstrates the ability to apply the concepts used in optometric care.
  • Certified paraoptometric technician (CPOT). An advanced certification that demonstrates the ability to understand, apply and interrelate the concepts used in optometric care.
  • Certified paraoptometric coder (CPOC). A specialty certification that demonstrates proficiency, expertise and validating superior knowledge in an optometric coding environment.

“For a paraoptometric, certification provides recognition, expands professional growth, and acknowledges the degree of knowledge and dedication to the profession,” Rodriguez says.

Recognize, reward paraoptometrics

September is Paraoptometric Month, the only formal observance dedicated to honoring optometric practice staff, and a valuable opportunity to not only recognize the value your staff brings to the practice but also encourage their professional development.

Even if paraoptometric certification isn’t the course your staff is ready to take, consider enrolling them as AOA associate members—at no cost to member doctors—to unlock the wealth of educational and developmental resources available through the AOA’s Paraoptometric Resource Center (PRC). Associate member benefits include: 

  • Access to CPC-approved courses for CE credits in the EyeLearn Professional Development Hub.
  • Access to professional development and training materials, including revised and updated Skillbuilders available this fall.
  • Opportunities to volunteer and network on a national level through the largest paraoptometric partnership in the country.
  • Discounted rates for paraoptometric education and certification materials.
  • Access to the PRC/CPC quarterly e-newsletter and other AOA publications.

“The AOA PRC offers educational resources for every job description in the practice, training tools for the new hire, continued education and professional development for paraoptometric assistants and technicians—all easily accessible through AOA’s new website,” Rodriguez says. 

“Consider these educational materials and resources to help your paraoptometric prepare for certification examinations as they pursue different levels of certification.”

Certification exams

And speaking of certification exams: looking to take one? The CPO, CPOA, CPOT and CPOC exams are administered during an established two-week testing period four times yearly with the final 2020 dates slated for Nov. 1-30. Submit your application no later than 9 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Oct. 7, in order to schedule your exam.

Read more about how paraoptometric certification launches opportunities and benefits optometry practices. 

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