3 ways to honor staff for Paraoptometric Appreciation Month
September marks Paraoptometric Appreciation Month, the only formal observance dedicated to honor optometric practice staff—so make the most of it. Reinforce the value paraoptometric staff bring to your practice—this month and year-round—with these three suggestions.
1. Enroll staff as AOA associate members.
It's included as part of your AOA membership, and this vital step opens the door to AOA member benefits and services.
Learn how to enroll an AOA associate member.
2. Encourage paraoptometric certification.
As optometric scope of practice continues to allow doctors of optometry to practice at the top of their license—utilizing the fullest extent of their education and training to meet the increasing demands on the U.S. health care system—optometric staff shouldn’t be overlooked. Increased responsibilities, procedures and demands on doctors of optometry translate into a greater need for proven, skilled support on the part of paraoptometric staff.
“The more they can do, the more they produce,” said AOA Immediate Past President William T. Reynolds, O.D., in the July/Aug 2020 issue of AOA Focus. “And everyone wants to do something valuable, to be valued.
"That’s why it’s so important that paraoptometrics become certified,” he added. “I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. As practices evolve, I think you’re going to see techs play more integral roles in practices.”
Developed by a panel of AOA doctors and paraoptometrics, paraoptometric certification ensures practice staff stay up to date in contemporary continuing education (CE) and professional development. Each level of certification requires successful completion of an exam prepared and administered by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC), with the assistance of Professional Testing Corporation (PTC), to ensure mastery of the specific skillsets.
Practices can help ensure their staff have every opportunity for success—and it begins with the CPC Paraoptometric Examination Candidate Handbook. This newly updated manual helps candidates better understand the processes and procedures to become certified, and how to retain certification through renewal. It’s not only required reading prior to applying for and taking certification examinations, but also the handbook is the go-to resource for staff seeking certification.
3. Attend the AOA 2021 Virtual Learning Livecast.
As the AOA's Future Practice Initiative gains speed and victories, the spotlight is increasingly shining on the role of paraoptometric staff in view of expanding scope for doctors of optometry. In recognition of that role, the AOA has taken steps to provide paraoptometric-focused education courses at the AOA 2021 Virtual Learning Livecast, Oct. 1-2. The event is a stress-free way for paraoptometric staff to earn the contemporary optometric education they need—and want. Registration is open to member paraoptometrics and seats for each course are limited, so register today. Paraoptometrics employed by an AOA member doctor of optometry who are not enrolled for membership and want to attend the event must be enrolled at least 24-48 hours prior to attempting to register for the event. The lineup of 32 expert-led courses covers 43 total assorted AOA-, COPE- and CPC-approved CE credits. The event reflects the AOA’s focus on year-round professional development for doctors, students and paraoptometrics at their convenience.“I find the livecast to be very valuable for doctors and our paraoptometric staff,” says Jacqueline M. Bowen, O.D., AOA Board of Trustees liaison to the AOA Education Center Committee. “Whether certified or prospective CPOs (certified paraoptometrics), the opportunity to jointly ‘attend’ the highest-level courses bonds their understanding of excellence in patient care with our doctors. When we recognize an opportunity for positive change through what we’ve learned together, we don’t start from square one but have a common understanding of the end game—the best care for patients.”
While the AOA, and others, urge HHS to rethink implementation of this No Surprises Act provision, an upcoming #AskAOA webinar will help doctors meet the requirements that took effect Jan. 1, 2022.