The impact of paraoptometric certification

February 24, 2022
The AOA offers a range of opportunities for paraoptometrics to obtain their certification, and an upcoming webinar highlights the difference it can make to their practice and patients.
The impact of paraoptometric certification

Paraoptometric certification is an asset that promotes a skilled, cohesive care team to build a practice around for years to come. The increasing demand for primary eye health care services delivered by optometry, as well as optometric scope of practice advances nationwide, mean optometry practices need competent paraoptometric staff who can demonstrate a high level of clinical capabilities and practice management knowledge to truly set themselves apart.

The AOA wants paraoptometrics to be the best they can be. Here are opportunities to explore that career path further.

Experienced panel

Paraoptometrics can attend the AOA-sponsored webinar, “Destination Certification: How to Boost Your Career,” on Tuesday, March 1, at 7 p.m. CT. The objective of the webinar is to educate paraoptometrics on the benefits certification can bring to their career. Register for the members-only panel on AOA’s EyeLearn Professional Development Hub.

Speakers are Beverly Roberts, CPOT, director of clinics; Melanie Jenkins, CPO, practice administrator; and Stacey Thibodeau, CPOT, CPOC, chair of the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification.

Practice assets

Certified staff are assets to their practices, Roberts and Jenkins say.

Roberts, for one, joined the practice of Steven T. Reed, O.D., AOA secretary-treasurer, in 2005. Even then, she recalls, Dr. Reed encouraged his staff to get their certification. “He always encouraged and paid for testing for any staff member who was interested in taking the test,” Roberts says. “I took my first exam six months after I started working for him. I continued to test every six months as eligible until I completed all three certification levels.

“By the time I reached the CPOT level, I felt confident in all areas of patient care,” she adds. “I could talk and communicate with patients at a level they could understand in order to explain what needed to be done to meet their eye care needs. Needing CE hours every three years for recertification helps me to stay on top of the changes in our profession.”

Jenkins, too, benefited from being a self-starter.

In 2008, she went to work for the Tennessee practice of Rob Szeliga, O.D. She had no experience working for a doctor of optometry but was eager to learn. After hearing about certification at a state affiliate meeting, she went to the AOA website to find out more.

“I was so impressed that there was an organization I could be a part of that contributed to my education for my job,” she says.

“Being certified gave me a confidence that I lacked especially since I had no prior experience in the field,” Jenkins says. “I felt like the more I learned, the more I could help patients understand what was taking place with their vision and eye health. I like being able to calm patients’ fears and concerns. I realized by having a means of continuing to learn more and more, I could help more patients to feel good about the care they were receiving from our office.”

Optometry’s Meeting® 2022

The paraoptometric is the focus at Optometry’s Meeting through continuing education (CE) and professional development courses. Among the 200 hours of CE are para-centric foundational courses such as “Refraction Learning Lab” and integrated (doctor-paraoptometric) courses such as “Diabetes Cases and Conundrums.” .


The AOA EyeLearn Professional Development Hub, a member-exclusive, centralized education resource, launched Feb. 7 with an entirely new, user-friendly look and feel for doctors, paraoptometrics and optometry students. Access the ever-expanding catalog of CE and professional development courses, webinars and resources oriented to advancing clinical proficiencies and practice management expertise, available whenever and wherever you’re ready to learn. Further, EyeLearn hosts and archives impactful webinar content, such as the Para Speaker Series. Read more about the relaunched EyeLearn

Everything to know about certification

Certification is one way for paraoptometrics to boost their professional confidence and their value to their practices. Read more about the process for attaining certification and renewing it every three years.

The CPC, which grants certification and recertification, has announced its schedule for CPO, CPOA, CPOT and CPOC examinations for its two-week testing periods four times annually.

2022 testing dates

Application deadline 
($50 late fee will be incurred for applications submitted after this date)

Late application deadline 
(Applications will not be accepted after this date) 

May 7-21
(includes CPOT testing)

March 23

April 13

Aug. 13-27

June 29

July 20

Nov. 5-19
(includes CPOT testing)

Sept. 21

Oct. 12

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