by Alex Conley, AOSA Vice President

by Alex Conley, AOSA Vice President

Board certified. What does that statement mean to optometrists? For Erich Hinel, O.D.,, it signifies his ability to practice optometry at the highest level while staying current with new clinical knowledge and skills. “Board certification makes me prove my abilities and knowledge of optometry every 10 years – just like a board certified family doctor, dermatologist, or podiatrist would have to do.”

Dr. Hinel is an ABO-Certified optometrist who was appointed by the AOSA to the Board of Directors of the American Board of Optometry (ABO) recently.

The American Board of Optometry is a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the quality of health care through board certification of optometrists in the United States. By becoming an American Board of Optometry Diplomate, the optometrist voluntarily demonstrates his or her knowledge, skills and abilities, and a commitment to lifelong learning for the benefit of patients.

I asked Dr. Hinel why it was important to become an ABO-Certified optometrist. “Board certification is a process used by the medical community to demonstrate that a practitioner has exceeded entry-level requirements (graduating and passing the NBEO), and is maintaining current knowledge and skills to practice at the highest level. It allows optometrists to demonstrate to patients they are up to date with the best possible knowledge to care for their patients. In fact, there are some employers that require their employees to be ABO-Certified before they can apply for the job.”

Becoming ABO-certified for a new graduate without a residency can take a little longer than an optometrist who has completed a residency, so it is best to start the process as soon as you can. An applicant needs to accumulate the 150 points necessary to begin the application process.

Dr. Hinel stated, “The good news is that you earn five points a year for every year you are in practice, one point for every hour of CE (which you are going to be doing anyway), and other points for obtaining your Fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry, College of Optometrists in Vision Development, or online CE courses,

“The application process can start as soon as the applicant has acquired an active state license. New graduates who have not done a residency can sit to take the board certification examination after three years of active licensure and accumulating the necessary 150 points.

“New graduates who have completed a residency can take the board certification examination upon completion of their residency. ACOE-accredited residencies count for all necessary 150 points.”

“Overall, board certification for optometry will only benefit the future patients that we as doctors will have,” Dr. Hinel said. “It ensures that optometrists are exceeding the education that they received in school and giving the best quality care for all patients.”

If you want to learn more about the ABO or how to become ABO Board Certified visit http://americanboardofoptometry.org/.