Big question at meeting: Who accredits CE providers?

July 2, 2012

The question of who accredits providers of optometric continuing education was at the forefront of Optometry’s Meeting®, with the AOA and the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) meeting together June 26, and taking up the issue separately in their business meetings.

The AOA House of Delegates instructed the AOA to work with other organizations – especially ARBO – to create a model for independent accreditation upon which all parties can agree.

According to AOA Trustee Chris Quinn, O.D., the model could be built in one of three ways:

  • an organization started from scratch
  • through the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE), if that organization were to be independent of ARBO with broad representative governance
  • through the Accreditation Council for Optometric Education (ACOE), which currently accredits professional degree and residency programs.

“The ACOE certainly has an  existing infrastructure to conduct accreditation, and it is independent in making accreditation decisions,” Dr. Quinn said.  “But some in the profession have concerns about the ACOE’s ties to the AOA.  Therefore, we are calling on all interested parties to provide input on the issue and help the AOA determine a course forward.”

Dr. Quinn said there are also concerns that COPE is “controlled by ARBO, is not a recognized accrediting body and is not representative of the profession at large – it only reflects the interests of ARBO.”

Dr. Quinn noted that optometry’s lack of an independent organization to accredit continuing education sets it apart from other health care fields.  Medicine, for example, relies on the independent Accrediting Council on Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to evaluate and accredit continuing education providers.  Although that organization is independent now, it was originally part of the American Medical Association, Dr. Quinn said.

Podiatry has an independent accrediting organization, the Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME), similar to ACOE, which “has final authority for the accreditation of colleges of podiatric medicine, the approval of fellowships and residency programs, and sponsors of continuing education.”

Dr. Quinn expects any profession-wide discussion to continue to study  existing models of accreditation and work toward the development of a model that is in the best interest of the profession.

He said the AOA is anxious to hold discussions of the topic with a broad representation of the profession.

“Everyone agrees that an independent accrediting body for optometry CE is a good thing,” he said.  “A profession takes pride in its ability and willingness to regulate itself, and continuing professional education is no exception to that obligation.”

One comment

  1. COPE is already working to accredit CE by providers. But I see no reason to separate COPE from ARBO. ARBO is an orgamization of state boards and state boards regulate CE. The regulation of CE should be wholy within the purvue of the state boards that require it. Furthermore, the ACOE is NOT an independent organization. They receive a significant portion of their budget from the AOA. All OD members of the ACOE board must be AOA members. And their “website” is a page on the AOA website, with the AOA logo prominently displayed. I see no reason to spend any resources trying to change a system that isn’t broken.

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