ARBO Marks 100th Anniversary, Celebration Planned at June 16-18 Annual Meeting in St. Louis

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) is celebrating their 100th anniversary. One of the oldest continuously operating organizations in optometry, ARBO has pursued its mission of assisting licensing boards since 1919. For 100 years, ARBO has provided its members with programs and services to assist in evolving the efficiency and competence of the optometric licensing boards. To commemorate its many accomplishments and historical significance to present-day optometry, a celebration is planned at ARBO’s 100th Annual Meeting, June 16-18, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Members and Staff of the regulatory boards of optometry are invited to attend the meeting as well as past ARBO Presidents and volunteers who have contributed to the success of the organization.

ARBO began as the International Association of Boards (IAB) in 1919. The vision of the early leaders was to create a venue to bring boards of optometry together to create uniformity, share knowledge, and advance optometric regulation for the benefit of the public. The organization’s name was changed to the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry in 1999, but the mission remains the same.

For 100 years, ARBO has served its member boards well by developing programs to help ease the burden on regulatory boards and by being a conduit of information regarding licensure and regulation. In the early years, ARBO’s projects included setting standards for licensure, establishing a common educational model, accreditation of optometry schools, and developing a uniform national examination for licensure.

Today, ARBO continues to be involved in some of these activities through its representation on the National Board of Examiners in Optometry and the Accreditation Council for Optometric Education. ARBO created the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE) in 1993 to accredit continuing education on behalf of optometric licensing boards. Over time, ARBO has evolved the COPE accreditation program to align it with other healthcare accreditation systems to support collaborative, inter-disciplinary care for better patient outcomes and improved community health. ARBO’s OE TRACKER program was established in 2005 for optometrists and licensing boards to electronically track, report, and audit attendance of CE courses. Usage of OE TRACKER by licensing boards and optometrists has increased exponentially since then. Currently, there are over 56,000 optometrists in OE TRACKER with over 4.3 million attendance records.

“This is a milestone year for ARBO. I’m very proud to be involved with an organization that has such longevity and relevance. Looking back, it appears that in many cases the issues that were raised by past ARBO leaders were ahead of their time and ahead of the thinking of the majority of the profession. The next century will offer many changes and challenges for optometry and ARBO will keep advancing as well to continue to protect the public we serve,” said Rick Orgain, OD, ARBO president.

The Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry is a non-profit organization based in Charlotte, North Carolina, which serves 66 Regulatory Boards of Optometry in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. ARBO's mission is to represent and assist member licensing agencies in regulating the practice of optometry for the public welfare. For more information on ARBO, contact Lisa Fennell, ARBO Executive Director, via email lfennell@arbo.org.