ABO Board Certification Position

August 06, 2009


TO: North Carolina Licensed Optometrists

FROM: North Carolina State Board of Examiners in Optometry

DATE: August 6, 2009

RE: Board Certification / American Board of Optometry

Notice to North Carolina Optometrists

Many of you are already aware that at its July meeting the AOA House of Delegates voted to create the American Board of Optometry (ABO) for the purpose of developing “a process for board certification and maintenance of certification as a means of demonstrating ongoing clinical competence (MOC)” for optometrists.

This Board may issue a policy, position statement, or rule at some future date addressing the issue of ABO board certification and related issues. At present, your Board simply wants to present to you the following facts and positions:

  • ABO board certification will have no bearing or impact on the licensure process in North Carolina.
  • No procedure for “board certification” exists in North Carolina, and the Board’s policy prohibiting North Carolina optometrists from representing that they are in any way “board certified” merely as a result of licensure by this Board remains in effect.
  • This Board will continue to fulfill its duty to verify to any appropriate entity (including third party payers, managed care organizations, and government agencies) the current status of license, scope of prescriptive authority, scope of practice, maintenance of competency, and other similar practice issues.
  • To the Board’s knowledge, there is no current requirement by any third party payor that any North Carolina optometrist be “board certified” in order to qualify for payment for any procedure whatsoever.
  • This Board is statutorily empowered to determine both initial and continuing competence to practice optometry in the state of North Carolina. Any attempt by any organization to supplant or usurp that authority is without force and effect, and will be opposed.
  • Based on its evaluation of the program of board certification which this Board understands ABO intends to implement, this Board is of the opinion that ABO board certification will not be indicative of any significant degree of competence or specialization beyond that possessed by any other licensee of this Board.
  • Therefore, this Board believes that the designation “Board Certified by the American Board of Optometry” or any similar designation is likely to cause confusion and foster incorrect assumptions by North Carolina citizens seeking optometric care and therefore would have the potential to mislead the public.
  • Accordingly, this Board will, at a minimum, take under consideration whether it should require that any licensee of this Board who wishes to represent to the public in any way (including but not limited to print advertisement, broadcast advertisement, business cards, business stationary, on a website, in a “signature”, or otherwise) that he or she is board certified by the ABO, must accompany such designation with the following or a similar notation, in direct proximity to and in font size and color identical to such designation: “Board certification by The American Board of Optometry is not recognized by the North Carolina State Board of Examiners in Optometry as denoting any education, training, experience, or expertise other than that required for continued licensure in North Carolina.”
  • This Board will continue to monitor all issues relating to the ABO board certification issue and will take further action and make further announcements when and as it deems appropriate.

Questions regarding information contained in this “Notice” should be directed to the Board’s Executive Director at exdir@ncoptometry.org, telephone (800) 426-4457 or (910) 285-3160.