Article Date: 7/1/2009

Certification Passes. What Will It Mean to Optometry?
o.d. to o.d.

Certification Passes. What Will It Mean to Optometry?

With the excitement of the vote over, it's time to assess how you, the optometrist, will move forward.

BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Chief Optometric Editor

It's official: Last week at the Congress of the American Optometric Association (AOA), the House of Delegates voted to create the first certification for optometry, ending on-again off-again efforts for certification that began in 1968.

On June 26th, 2009, the House of Delegates convened. The room was packed with many observers, including AOA members and members of the press. Pro and con presentations were delivered, and the games were on. Things began to gel, and a vote later in the afternoon sealed the deal. Between the opening gavel and the closing gavel, delegates politicked, caucuses caucused, "twitterers" tweeted, and onlookers became more and more concerned that any sense would come from the goings on. Motions were seconded, amendments were proposed and then amended.

Congratulations

My hats off to the men and women who invested significant time and effort into making the best decisions possible, and not just during the meeting, but throughout the year. I especially want to thank David Cockrell, O.D., F.A.A.O. David organized and presented the information regarding this very complex and emotional topic in a clear, concise, and, what I believe to be, impartial manner.

I guess if I experienced any confusion, it was regarding the voting. Did the delegates vote based on the wishes of their constituents or what the AOA felt was best for optometry? Or, was voting based on what they personally believed was in optometry's best interest? I certainly hope none of the delegates had to explain why their vote was contrary to the wishes of their constituents — or why they were on the Appalachian Trail or in Argentina rather than in Washington, D.C.

Your choice

Another interesting comment I heard before and after the vote on certification was: "If certification passes, I'll quit the AOA." Okay, it's certainly your choice, but keep this in mind: Optometry is a legislated profession, like it or not.

I can't imagine that in the current political climate, we can expect optometry to become less legislated in the future. And I can't imagine that regulatory requirements will be reduced either. With President Obama vowing to "fix" healthcare, we should all be cringing, our face grimaced, head slightly turned and waiting as though we're all about to be slapped yet again with the governments ridiculous perception of how it can better tell us how to practice.

The bottom line: Certification is optional, do it or don't do it. If you think certification makes a difference, then earn your points, prepare for the examination, encourage and study with your colleagues, and get certified. If you don't think it makes any difference, then don't do it — why worry whether other doctors in your market area are certified (unless you think it might matter to patients)?

What certification means

When all the dust settles, let's not loose sight of one important fact: certification is not just certification. Certification is an indication that you have demonstrated a current level of competency. Certainly none of us would allow ourselves to practice if we thought we were incompetent, so look at certification as a way to prove that you're as smart as you think you are. Cowboy up! OM



Optometric Management, Issue: July 2009