The Certification Process - General Optometry
The process of becoming certified in General Optometry by the American Board of Clinical Optometry (ABCO) begins when the applicant completes an Application for Certification and submits the completed application along with the application fee to the ABCO for review. Upon receipt of the application the ABCO will determine if the applicant has met the following criteria for certification:
1. Education. The applicant must have successfully completed an optometric education, and obtained the degree of Doctor of Optometry, from a college or school of optometry. If the applicant’s optometry degree is from a non-ACOE accredited college or school of optometry, the applicant must have also passed all Parts of the board examinations offered by the NBEO at the time the applicant received a license to practice optometry in the United States, Canada or the territories.
2. Examination. The applicant must have taken and successfully passed all examination sections of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO), or equivalent state, provincial, or territorial board examination(s), that were required for the applicant's initial licensure to practice optometry.
3. Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease. To earn an ABCO Certification the applicant must have taken and successfully passed the National Board of Examiners in Optometry examination in the Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease (TMOD), or its equivalent. Until January 1, 2020, applicants that have not taken or passed the TMOD or an equivalent examination but whom have otherwise met all other criteria for ABCO Certification are eligible for Non-therapeutic ABCO Certification.* (An examination or process is considered "equivalent" to the TMOD examination for purposes of ABCO certification if your state board of optometry has deemed it adequate to certify you to prescribe therapeutic pharmaceutical agents in your state.)
4. Licensure. The applicant must hold in good standing an unrestricted license to practice optometry in at least one state in the United States, its territories, or in Canada. Except for those applicants only eligible for a Non-therapeutic ABCO Certification, to obtain ABCO Certification the applicant's license(s) under which he or she is actively practicing optometry must permit the applicant to prescribe or dispense therapeutic pharmaceutical agents as allowed in each such state.
5. Moral Character. The applicant must meet the moral character qualifications for certification as determined by the ABCO Credentialing Committee based on the committee's review of the application and the applicant's history of discipline, criminal and/or civil background check, and reporting to the National Practitioner Data Bank** or equivalent agencies.
When the applicant has satisfied the above criteria for ABCO board certification the ABCO will grant the applicant Certification and use of the professional designation Fellow of the American Board of Clinical Optometry (FABCO).
The fee for ABCO Certification is $350, with an annual fee of $95 each year thereafter. If your application is denied the ABCO will refund the credentialing fee less a $150 application processing fee.
Maintenance of ABCO Certification will require, in addition to the ordinary fees incurred for meeting continuing education requirements, a yet-to-be-determined fee for completion of the required self-assessment and/or practice performance modules (which must be completed once during years 4-5 of each of your ABCO-MOC cycles), a fee for the required recertification examination (which must be completed once during years 4-5 of every other ABCO-MOC cycle) and a yet-to-be-determined fee for renewal of your ABCO Certification and Fellowship.
*Notice to Non-TPA Licensed Optometrists
After January 1, 2020, the ABCO will discontinue its Non-Therapeutic ABCO Certification category. After that date, to become or continue to be ABCO Certified, all Fellows of the ABCO will be required to have passed the TMOD or an equivalent examination and must be permitted to prescribe or dispense therapeutic pharmaceutical agents in all states in which the Fellow actively practices optometry or pursuant to each license under which the Fellow is actively practicing optometry.
** National Practitioner Data Bank
Applicants for certification by the ABCO must self-query the NPDB and obtain their NPDB reports, then forward that report to the ABCO. Your application cannot be completed until ABCO has a copy of your NPDB report. Please go to the NPDB website at https://www.npdb.hrsa.gov/ for instructions on how to obtain your NPDB report. Applications for certification cannot be approved until receipt of your NPDB report.