What is COPE?
Optometric continuing education (CE) is the primary method used by optometric licensing boards to certify continuing competence of licensed optometrists. The Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE) is a national clearinghouse for all CE courses of a state-wide, regional or national scope. It was created to remove duplicative efforts by state boards, instructors, and program administrators.
Organizationally, COPE is a committee of the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO), which is the association that currently represents 50 US optometry boards, 4 US territories/jurisdictions, and 2 Canadian boards. COPE's mission is to assist member boards in the accreditation and monitoring of optometric continuing education to enhance optometric competence for the protection of the public and to:
- coordinate the review and approval of continuing optometric education courses on behalf of state boards on a national basis;
- reduce duplication of effort by state boards;
- create a uniform method of recording continuing education courses on a national basis;
- be the clearinghouse for information about continuing education programs and courses utilized by licensed optometrists to fulfill their continuing education requirements for license renewal; and
- encourage program sponsors to offer high quality CE in appropriate settings with adequate administrative structure.
To create this national clearinghouse, participating state boards have agreed upon: standards for administration of continuing education courses; a standard form for submission for course approval; a standard form for reporting continuing education courses.
COPE has established a set of criteria to match those required by participating jurisdiction licensing boards. This assures that once qualified, COPE approved courses will be acceptable to all participating licensing boards for CE credit towards license renewal.