ST. LOUIS—The American Optometric Association (AOA) and MyEyeDr. have announced a partnership that will provide about 500 of the company's paraoptometrics access to the association’s exclusive educational and professional development hub, EyeLearn. EyeLearn is a hub for hundreds of educational modules, webinars and articles to help advance clinical proficiency, the practice of contemporary optometry and practice management knowledge for AOA-member doctors of optometry, optometry students and associate member paraoptometric staff. The access to best practices and on-demand resources for MyEyeDr.’s technicians was behind the formation of the partnership. "Paraoptometric professionals are essential partners in supporting the valuable care doctors of optometry deliver and to promoting greater patient access to care. The AOA has made significant efforts to ensure they have access to cutting-edge, practicable education to develop their skills,” AOA President Robert C. Layman, OD, said in the announcement. “MyEyeDr.’s commitment to furthering paraoptometrics’ careers and the value they place on membership as a tool in advancement make them a natural partner to pilot—and strengthen—this initiative.”

“We often hear our doctors of optometry speak about the partnership with their technicians in providing the best patient care,” added Jeff Strand, OD, director of clinical excellence at MyEyeDr. “We wanted to create a true career path for our technicians. We envisioned the qualities, skills and passion needed to be a technician in certain levels of expertise—from those new to our profession to those who have acquired skills through the mentoring of our doctors. What better way to engage with our technicians than to develop skill and career milestones and measure success through partnering in programs developed by our own prestigious national organization, the AOA.”

“Learning and development through education and training builds the foundation for expertise in any career,” Dr. Strand added. “This knowledge builds confidence in problem-solving skills to not only provide a variety of solutions for patients, but to help guide patients through their journey in the office. More educated technicians help us educate our patients more fully and find the right solutions for their needs. Personalized eyecare can only happen when we listen to our patients, have knowledge of all of the options and then discuss and help choose a solution in partnership with the patient.”

Jacquie M. Bowen, OD, AOA trustee and liaison to the AOA Education Center Committee, which manages EyeLearn, said that “MyEyeDr. recognizes that our multitiered paraoptometric certification program is the most comprehensive and effective pathway to successfully train and equip staff. With one consistent and repeatable training module, on-boarding a new staff member goes significantly more smoothly.” She added, “When doctors and staff work together at the highest level, patients are simply better cared for.”

The AOA’s paraoptometric resources are designed to raise the skill level of doctors’ staff in the practice of contemporary optometry. In addition, these resources are available to help paraoptometrics study in preparation for their national certification examinations for the four levels of certification, including certified paraoptometric (CPO), certified paraoptometric assistant (CPOA), certified paraoptometric technician (CPOT) and certified paraoptometric coder (CPOC). 

Each program requires successful completion of an examination prepared and administered for each level by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC) with the assistance of Professional Testing Corporation. These examinations assure a level of knowledge to perform the functions necessary to each certified designation. Recipients must renew their certification every three years to remain current in their field.

The CPO, CPOA and CPOT examinations are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA); the CPOC is not NCAA accredited. The NCCA accreditation serves as a benchmark on how organizations should conduct certification and clearly distinguishes the excellence and value of CPC certification. The CPC is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, an organization that provides education, networking and other resources for professionals.
MyEyeDr. employs about 1,200 full- and part-time doctors of optometry seeing patients in a broad array of practice settings. They are assisted by about 1,200 technicians.