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Purpose of the ABCMO
The American Board of Certification in Medical Optometry is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides recognition and certification of US licensed optometrists who have chosen to specialize in medical optometry after receiving their professional degree and state license to practice. Certification is achieved by successfully completing an ACOE accredited one-year postgraduate residency training program in medical optometry, passing the written ACMO examination testing advanced competence in medical optometry, documenting two years practicing medical optometry immediately prior to application and other criteria of examination deemed appropriate.

What is Medical Optometry?

Medical Optometry encompasses the medical diagnosis, management and treatment of primary and secondary diseases and disorders of the human eye, adnexa and visual tracts.

Value of ABCMO Certification

ABCMO certification provides the public, credentialing committees and fellow medical practitioners a national, uniform indicator that an optometrist possesses specialized, advanced knowledge, skills and competence in the practice of medical optometry as governed by their state license of record.

NOTE: Applicants can use the NBEO online Score Request Form to have encoded official ACMO scores transmitted to ABCMO. For more information click here.

Editorial: Growing Optometry Surpluses

For some time, the ABCMO Board has been concerned over evidence of growing surplus numbers of optometrists.

In 1997, following graduation rates around 1,127 for many years, the AOA sponsored National Optometry Census was released and then analyzed in the Abt. Manpower Study In 2000, also sponsored by the AOA. The Abt. Study concluded the supply of optometrists equaled demand in 1997 but the graduation rate of 1,127 would create future surpluses. In 1997 the optometry density was 11.5 licensed optometrists per 100,000.

Since 1997, new schools opened, three more are being organized and a fourth is being considered This year, graduates will approach 1,600 and increase to nearly 1,900 by 2018. Meanwhile, applications per seat have declined and these high enrollments will lead to record densities of 15-17 per 100,000,

The editorial concludes optometry, unlike medicine, dentistry and podiatry, has a growing surplus of practitioners chiefly produced by:
  1. Overly optimistic forecasts of optometry manpower needs.
  2. Freely available guaranteed student loans.
  3. Accreditation standards lacking quantitative clinical training requirements.
Read Editorial

Presentation to ARBO
When the ABCMO was invited to brief the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry Dr. Ken Myers stressed that "board certification" for general practice optometrists was not required, proposed or contemplated by any health care organization and, specifically, was not part of the recently passed "Health Care Reform Act of 2010". He explained this was because the Joint Commission On Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations affirmed, in 1986, that while specialists are expected by accredited healthcare facilities to be board certified in their specialty, defined-license, independent prescribing practitioners such as dentists, optometrists, audiologists and psychologists are eligible to be granted those privileges supported by their degrees and state practice acts and need no additional credentials to be granted medical staff membership and general practice clinical privileges.

This reflects the fact board certification is used to denote advanced competence in a specialty of the profession in which a practitioner is licensed and this advanced competence is achieved by additional, accredited, post-graduate clinical residency training, passage of a written examination testing that advanced competence in the specialty followed by certification by a specialty board. Thus there is no need, or precedence, for requiring additional credentials of those engaged in the general practice of a defined-license, independent prescribing profession as they are within the authority of their respective state practice acts.

To download the power point slides of the Presentation to ARBO - click here

Mullen Slideshow - New Educational Model
Unlike medicine and dentistry, optometry education does not receive federal support for clinical education. This new educational model would award the OD degree in 3-years, federal-supported residency training in the 4th year prior to licensing and then board certification in general practice. This would require less student debt; clinical training facilities would receive federal support; and graduates would be board eligible in general practice without additional training.
A New Educational Model

Consequences of Optometry Redefining Board Certification

Lewin Study Finds Optometry Surplus
Editorial Analysis

Information on Specialty Certification
Application Requirements:
  1. Applicants must have successfully completed an accredited residency in medical optometry and passed the Advanced Competence in Medical Optometry examination administered annually by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry. See Article 14 of ABCMO Bylaws.
  2. Special Applications on Merit, will be considered on an individual basis. See Article 15 of ABCMO Bylaws.

ABCMO is Only Optometry Specialty Board

More Information
AOS vs ABO - Judge Matz's Ruling. (pdf)
Consequences of Optometry Redefining Board Certification

Additional ABMCO Information
ABCMO Basics (pdf)
Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)
Requirements for Certification (pdf)
Certification Fees (pdf)

Candidates may request the required self-report for their application from the National Practitioner Data Bank by clicking here.

ACMO Update

The National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) is pleased to announce that registration is open for the tenth administration of the Advanced Competence in Medical Optometry (ACMO) exam. ACMO 2014 will be administered as a computer-based test at Pearson VUE centers across the country on Thursday, June 5, 2014.
Candidates can learn more about the ACMO exam and register for the exam by clicking on the following link:

Overview and History of ABCMO (pdf)
Organizations and Board Certification (pdf)

ABMCO Materials/Media
ABCMO Brochure (pdf)
ABCMO in RO(pdf)

Other Resource Links
American Board of Medical Specialties

American Council on Optometric Education

Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry

National Board of Examiners in Optometry

Optometric Residency Matching System

VA Optometry Service

Optometric Retina Society

Optometric Glaucoma Society

Trends in Optometric Education and Clinical Training

National Practitioner Data Bank

New Model for Student Clinical Education

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