NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—After months of heated debate amongst the optometric community, the American Optometric Association’s House of Delegates voted for board certification during its annual meeting here today, capping off one of the most controversial and significant decisions for the profession in decades.
The final verbiage is subject to the review of the AOA’s judicial council.
Following a lengthy morning presentation and full day of sometimes passionate discussion on the merits of board certification and a maintenance of certification standards for optometry, the AOA House of Delegates’ final vote was 1,126 for and 887 against.
States that voted for board certification included California, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. States that voted against board certification included Florida, Kentucky, Ohio and Massachusetts. Some states’ votes were split on the issue, including New York, Colorado and Georgia.
Proponents of the issue stood firm in their stance that optometry needed board certification to have a seat at the national health-care reform table with other physicians. Additionally, pro-board certification advocates argued that the Federal government was already moving toward a board certification requirement and a standard requirement of maintenance of certification to qualify as a performance measure for such programs as the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative and the new Medical Home program.
The issue also had strong and vocal opponents, who attested that that board certification already existed, and that it created significant time and money burdens for ODs and did not improve patient care. The House of Delegates voted to “authorize the AOA to participate in the development, formation, implementation and governance of the American Board of Optometry. The House of Delegates’ vote recommends that the American Board of Optometry adopt founding principles and develop a process for Board Certification and Maintenance of Certification based predominantly on the draft model proposal language” created by the Joint Certification Project Team.