Certification by the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) provides assurance to the public and the medical profession that a physician has successfully completed an evaluation designed to assess the knowledge, experience, and skills required for the delivery of high standards of patient care in ophthalmology. The current eligibility criteria for entry into the ABO certification process include the requirement that the candidate completed residency training either in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical education (ACGME)-accredited training program in the United States or in a Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (RCPSC)-accredited training program in Canada. The ABO recognizes, however, that many licensed, qualified ophthalmologists who practice in the United States were trained elsewhere. Therefore, in accordance with its mission, the ABO has approved a pathway for internationally-trained ophthalmologists (ITO) to obtain ABO Certification. The foundation of the Program for ITOs to Qualify for Participation in ABO Certification is a combination of verifiable information on the individual’s training and practice as well as participation in self-assessment and practice performance assessments
- Applicants must have a current valid and unrestricted license to practice in the United States for a minimum of five (5) consecutive years (since January 1, 2014).
- Applicants must have been practicing in the United States for a minimum of five (5) consecutive years (since January 1, 2014).
- Applicants are required to have a certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
- Applicants must be practicing ophthalmology and have surgical privileges.
Applicants will be responsible for providing all requested materials for documentation.
The cost for participation in the ITO Program is $1,000 PLUS the then-current cost of the Written Qualifying Examination and Oral Examination. The $1,000 fee is nonrefundable and includes the review of the application and supporting documentation and verification of completion of an activity designed to promote patient safety, an activity designed to promote quality improvement, and a patient experience of care survey.
Procedures and Timeline:
1. Application: April – December 1, 2019
The application is designed to ensure that the applicant satisfies performance requirements outlined in the six core competencies developed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS):
- Medical Knowledge;
- Patient Care and Procedural Skills;
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills;
- Practice-Based Learning and Improvement; and
- Systems-Based Practice.
A. 1. Licensure: Applicants must hold a valid and unrestricted license(s) to practice medicine in the United States for a minimum of five (5) consecutive years (since January 1, 2014). A license that permits practice only at a specific academic institution is not considered “unrestricted” for the purposes of this pathway. Copies of all active licenses are required with application. Documentation of Board certification or equivalent in the applicant’s country of training (if applicable) must be submitted.
B. Medical Knowledge
B. 1. Medical School: Documentation of completion of medical school and certification of medical school training from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). A copy of the ECFMG certificate must be included with the application.
B. 2. Postgraduate Training: Documentation of completion of postgraduate training, including (translated to English if necessary):
- Name, location and contact information for institution where the training was obtained;
- Beginning and completion dates of training;
- Complete program curriculum (rotation schedule) by year;
- Detailed description of education activities, including didactic schedule;
- Detailed description of types and number of each surgical procedure performed; and
- Detailed description of evaluation process and approval for program completion.
C. Patient Care and Procedural Skills
C. 1. Attestation of Ophthalmic Practice: Summary description of current ophthalmic practice, including the volume and disease categories of patients seen and surgical procedures performed. All applicants must have been practicing in the United States for a minimum of five (5) consecutive years (since January 1, 2014).
C. 2. Surgical Privileges: Documentation of surgical privileges and/or information on participation in Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation (OPPE) and/or Focused Professional Practice Evaluation (FPPE) if applicable.
C. 3. Peer Letters of Recommendation: Three letters of recommendation from ABMS-certified physicians, at least 2 of whom are certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.
All applications received by December 1 will be reviewed for completeness. If an application is incomplete the applicant will be notified and provided a two-week period to submit the requested information. All complete applications will be reviewed by the ABO Credentials Committee. During this review, applicants may be asked to provide additional information. Approval or denial of an application by the ABO is final and not subject to appeal.
Approved applicants will be provided with an approval letter and instructions for completing the additional requirements (outlined below).
2. Additional Requirements for Approved Applicants: Must be completed by August 1, 2020
Approved applicants must complete the additional activities below, addressing the three remaining core competencies by August 1, 2020.
D. Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Completion of a Patient Experience of Care (PEC) Survey.
The PEC Survey consists of 13 questions (3 demographic and 10 specifically designed to assess a physician's communication style during the patient/doctor encounter.) Participants are required to share the survey with their patients and acquire a minimum of 45 submissions.
E. Practice-Based Learning and Improvement: Participation in an activity designed to promote quality improvement.
Activities on the American Board of Ophthalmology's Improvement in Medical Practice Menu for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) are designed to encourage ongoing assessment and improvement of patient care. Participants may choose to create their own improvement project or select an activity from the CME Finder menu. Participants are not permitted to use the Quarterly Questions pathway.
F. Systems-Based Practice: Participate in an activity designed to promote patient safety.
To meet the patient safety requirement using a CME activity that qualifies as patient safety, visit the ACCME’s CME Finder, filter for Patient Safety, and select from the list of options. Participants are not permitted to use the Quarterly Questions pathway.
All requirements must be completed by August 1 of the year the candidate wishes to sit for the WQE. Applicants will be notified of successful completion of each requirement.
3. Final Approval: December 2019/January 2020
Applicants who successfully complete the application and additional requirements will be sent information to register for the Written Qualifying Examination. Candidates who successfully complete the Written Qualifying Examination and the Oral Examination will become Diplomates of the American Board of Ophthalmology and will be subject to the Maintenance of Certification process. Diplomates who obtain ABO Certification via the ITO pathway will be publicly identified as ABO-certified in the same manner as all ABO diplomates.