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  January 8, 2014
In Your Employ

What Is the Return on Investment for Paraoptometric Certification in a Multi-Location Operation?

By Rebecca L. Johnson, CPOT, COT, COE and Evan Kestenbaum, MBA

By hiring paraoptometric staff and enlisting them to take on responsibilities across multiple locations, mid-size regional optical groups can improve efficiencies, realize savings and ultimately improve their bottom line. Here are just a few ways that a multi-location operation can generate a return on its investment in a certified paraoptometric staff.

Having a certified staff allows you to make the most efficient and effective use of office time by confident delegation of patient care. Certified staff are better qualified to move from location to location as they have proven that they truly understand eyecare tasks and are not just robotically doing what one doctor says. Understanding eyecare makes it easier to transfer the knowledge, regardless of the doctor.

Patient Satisfaction
Patients feel more at ease by knowing that the staff members who are assisting the doctor have achieved certification in eyecare. Seeing staff certificates hanging in the office builds trust, which increases referrals and profit.

Staff Retention
When staff members commit to becoming certified, they are committing to eyecare as a career, not just a job. Certified staff members take pride in their title and tend to be loyal to the doctor who sponsored their certification.

Peace of Mind
Knowing that your staff has demonstrated a level of competence and is up to date in their knowledge gives you more confidence in the staff and peace of mind that they are performing to your expectations.

Marketing Opportunities
Let the world know that your office personnel are certified by posting the news on your website, through social media and in press releases.

Frequently Asked Questions about Certified Paraoptometric Staff
Q: Why should someone who has been working in eyecare for years become certified?
A: Certification allows experienced staff members to demonstrate their competency with a professional certification title that patients will notice.

Q: What if the staff does not want to become certified?
A: Usually when a staff member balks at sitting for a certification exam it is because they do not have the confidence that they will pass. Let the staff know that you are behind them 100 percent and will do all you can to help them prepare for the exam. Reassure them that they will not lose their job if they fail the exam. Help them visualize how proud they will be of themselves when they pass.

Q: Does the doctor have to pay the exam fee and buy the resource material?
A: The staff member can pay for certification on their own. However, if you require certification, then you should pay the fee. Most doctors pay for the exam fee and purchase the resource material. The resource material can remain property of the office and be shared among staff members. Some offices ask that the staff member pay for the certification with reimbursement upon passing. The problem with this is that not all staff members can afford to pay the exam fee up front, creating a deterrent toward taking the exam.

Q: Should an employee be given a raise for becoming certified?
A: The answer to this depends on your pay structure. If the employee has been with you for a long time and is at a higher pay scale, you might want to consider a bonus instead of a raise. If the employee is paid less than the average rate for a certified paraoptometric, you may wish to offer a raise upon successfully passing the exam.

Q: What is the average pay scale for certified paraoptometrics?
A: This is a tough question as there are many factors to consider, such as the size, type and location of the practice and the length of time the employee has been with the practice. According to "Key Metrics: Assessing Optometric Practice Performance," MBA 2013, the average hourly rate for an optometric assistant is $13.21. This study does not mention certification. suggests that certified paraoptometrics earn $11 to $18 per hour.

Q: What if I pay for the certification and the employee leaves my practice to work for a doctor who will pay them more money since they are certified?
A: Losing good staff is always a concern. However, staff members tend to be loyal to a doctor who encourages career growth and pays accordingly. You may consider asking the staff to sign an agreement to reimburse the certification expenses if they leave your practice within a certain amount of time after you have paid the fees.


Evan Kestenbaum, MBA, is chief information officer of GPN, Exclusive Provider of The EDGE. Contact Evan directly at



Rebecca Johnson, CPOT, COT, COE, is the executive director, business consultative services, for GPN, and managing director, VHR-Advisor.

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