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This issue is dedicated to the memory of Virginia S. Boyce (1912-2009).

40 Years of JCAHPO

In terms of historical dates, few carry more significance for JCAHPO than October 12. On this day in 1969, the very first organizational meeting of the new Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) was held at the Palmer House in Chicago, IL. After years of planning and preparation, it was here that the first set of articles of incorporation were signed by the founding Commissioners as representatives from the first six participating societies.

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology (AAO&O)
  • American Association of Ophthalmology (AAO)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO)
  • Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists (CLAO)
  • Society of Military Ophthalmologists (SMO)

In honor of this occasion, JCAHPO would like to thank everyone who has contributed to its growth for the past four decades. The JCAHPO Commissioners, volunteer faculty, staff, and certificants each played a central role in guaranteeing that JCAHPO remains committed to providing quality education and certification that improves patient care worldwide.

Thank You!


New Pocket Guide

In October, JCAHPO & ATPO collaborated to launch a new educational resource for OMP:

The JCAHPO/ATPO Pocket Guide: A Clinical Skills and Reference Guide for the Ophthalmic Technician

The text includes quick reference tab navigation, detailed illustrations and diagrams in 12 color-coded sections. This is a MUST-HAVE reference resource for OMP. Tabbed sections include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Clinical Skills
  • Coding
  • Contact Lenses
  • History Taking/Triage/Documentation
  • Pharmacology
  • Safety and Infection Control
  • Special Tests and Procedures
  • Surgical
  • Terminology
  • Optics
  • Reference and Tools

The JCAHPO/ATPO Pocket Guide is now available for purchase through the JCAHPO Bookstore. Ask about discounts for bulk purchases!


JCAHPO Webinar Series

The first two presentations in the JCAHPO & ATPO Webinar Series were highly successful and well-attended. Webinars are the latest way for personnel to earn JCAHPO credits quickly and from the convenience of their home or office.

The first Tuesday of each month, a new topic will be available featuring content that reflects emerging procedures and technologies in eye care.

Date Time Topic
*November 17, 2009 7:30 p.m., CST Clinical AMD - Pearls for the Technician
December 8, 2009 7:30 p.m., CST Chief Complaints – The Technician’s Role in Compliance
January 12, 2010 7:30 p.m., CST Imaging for AMD - Pearls for the Technician
February 9, 2010 7:30 p.m., CST Ophthalmic Ultrasound
March 9, 2010 7:30 p.m., CST Optical/Dispensing - Prescribing
April 6, 2010 7:30 p.m., CST Glaucoma
May 11, 2010 7:30 p.m., CST ERX - A Clinical Perspective
June 8, 2010 7:30 p.m., CST Disaster Relief for an Ophthalmology Practice and the Technician’s Role
July 12, 2010 7:30 p.m., CST Refractive Surgery Case Discussion
August 10, 2010 7:30 p.m., CST Oculoplastics

*FREE to JCAHPO certificants and ATPO members.

Visit the new Webinar pages to register or for more information.


2010 Census - Specify "Ophthalmic Technician"

When census forms are delivered in March 2010, you may be asked about occupational information from the American Community Survey. If so, make sure that you appropriately list your occupation as an ophthalmic technician. This identifies the profession as a separate career pathway and brings public recognition and unity to OMP nationwide.

In February 2009, JCAHPO announced that “Ophthalmic Technician” was approved for separate listing by the United States Bureau of Labor’s 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Committee. The 2010 SOC listing is used by federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, and disseminating data.

This is a huge achievement for ophthalmic allied health that communicates the complexity and range of tasks that differentiates this profession from medical assisting. Under the new listing, “Ophthalmic Technician” is classified under the major category of Health Technologists and Technicians (29-2050), and the sub-group of Health Practitioner Support Technicians and Technologists (29-2057).

Did you know?

According to the September 2009 “Employment Summary” by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care has added 544,000 jobs since the start of the recession.


The Importance of Maintaining Your Staff’s Professional Development

"Learning is either a continuing thing or it is nothing."

-Frank Tyger

Whether its real estate, the stock market, or health care, the delicate global economy has become a conversational final destination. For many, this can lead to overwhelming fear and uncertainty. Instead of focusing on the problem, consider “money talk” as an opportunity to be introspective and discover important, often overlooked business realities. Let the laws governing economics swing as they may, and remain calm and measured when it comes to making practical, smart business decisions. More than anything, resist the urge to scale back. Instead, fortify your practice by investing in part of its infrastructure: the career development of your OMP.

Take Inventory

Any strong business should aim to employ a dynamic work force: a group of proficient, skilled individuals working together in a common pursuit. The difference between envisioning and attaining this end though, can be challenging.

To start, critically evaluate the staff you currently employ. Who brings a positive attitude? Who interacts with patients well? Who contributes to office efficiency? Asking these questions and identifying strengths in your employees is a great launching point for understanding the hand you’ve been dealt. Use this to your advantage in delegating specific tasks to staff who demonstrate clear aptitude.

Develop Personnel Skills

Even before taking a thorough survey of personnel, there are probably several individuals who stand out. It could be the person who has worked hard for your clinic for several years, or it could be the newcomer. Regardless, these are the sort of dynamic, committed individuals that make ideal employees.

Rewarding staff with reimbursement for continuing education and certification demonstrates that you, as an employer, value personnel who are career-minded, skilled professionals. Mutual respect is exchanged and a level of trust develops between employee and employer. The personnel participating in career development will learn more and be a stronger asset to your clinic. In the end, this is the sort of positive reinforcement that can transform staff morale, incentivize, and improve performance.

Maintain Training

For ophthalmologists, continuing medical education (CME) is a vital part of ensuring that patients receive the best possible care. Travel to conferences, weekends on the road, and attending lectures and courses may not be exciting pursuits. Yet CME is just as important as treating patients or operating a clinic. This is an accepted part of career development for ophthalmologists. Continuing education (CE) for personnel is equally important. CE aids personnel in developing skills and knowledge that are relevant and effective. Appreciate how this mindset might benefit your staff and clinic and embrace continuing education as a component for improving efficiency.

Employ Certified Staff

JCAHPO certification is a standard among ophthalmic allied health professionals recognized and respected worldwide by physicians, employers, administrators, and other OMP. Employing certified OMP conveys to patients and the eye care profession about the level of performance and training required to serve as an eye care provider. Raise the professional bar in your clinic. This will set aside untrained job applicants, attract experienced and trained professionals, and relay training expectations to prospective personnel.

Progress – Not Perfection

Empowering your personnel with the tools to reach their full potential can serve practical long term objectives. Regard professional development as a part of your clinics commitment to its employees, rather than a costly annoyance. Let ideals lead the way to improving the availability of care and realize that when it comes to growth, there is no finish line.


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2010 Medicare Changes May Affect Your Patients’ Coverage

Each year, your patients’ Medicare health and drug plans change. The costs of monthly premiums may increase, as well as the co-pays for office visits and prescription drugs. And, every year, millions of Medicare patients switch prescription drug plans. In 2008, about 3.1 million Part D enrollees switched plans.1 Part D plans may also change the drugs they cover, and health care providers may opt out of some current Medicare health plans and opt into new ones.

As a technician, you are in a unique position to help your patients make informed decisions about many aspects of their health care—including their coverage. If your Medicare patients ask you questions about their coverage, encourage them to review their health and drug plans annually and evaluate any changes so they can determine which plans offer them the best value for their money.

Below are some ways you can help:

Remind your patients of enrollment dates:

  • The open enrollment period for 2010 Medicare health and prescription drug plans is November 15 through December 31. Patients who do not select a new plan will automatically continue on their current plan for 2010.
  • Patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage can change plans from January 1 through March 31.2
  • After March, patients may only join, switch, or drop Medicare if they qualify for special enrollment.3 This includes patients who are turning 65 years old, moving to a different coverage area, or eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. For more information on special enrollment, patients can visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227).

Explain how their health coverage may change">

  • Remind your patients to consider those Medicare health plans in which your office participates when they review the plans available for 2010, especially if your office will be changing plans
  • Inform your patients that formulary changes to Medicare Part D drug plans may affect their access to certain medications. As a result, patients may need to switch prescription drug plans in order to continue with their current therapies

Describe the steps for checking prescription drug coverage

  1. Go to www.Medicare.gov
  2. Click on “Formulary Finder-2010 Plan Data”
  3. Enter state name
  4. Enter drug name(s), then enter dosage
  5. Review the list of plans offering drug coverage in the state
  6. Choose the plan that offers the best coverage

Explain terms that may not be familiar to your patients

Premium: The monthly cost patients pay for their plan. For some patients, there may be no monthly cost.
Deductible: The amount of money patients pay themselves before their coverage begins.
Co-pay: The amount that patients continue to pay after they have met their plan’s deductible.
Formulary: The list of drugs that a plan covers. This list of drugs varies for each plan and should be a key factor for patients to consider when choosing a plan.

Refrences: 1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; US Department of Health & Human Services. Medicare prescription drug benefit’s projected costs continue to drop: Part D attracts new beneficiaries and achieves high rates of satisfaction [press release]. January 31, 2008. 2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; US Department of Health & Human Services. Medicare at a glance. CMS publication no. 11082; September 2008. http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11082.pdf. Accessed October 23, 2009. 3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; US Department of Health & Human Services. Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Manual. Chapter 3. Eligibility, Enrollment and Disenrollment. http://www.cms.hhs.gov/MedicarePresDrugEligEnrol/Downloads/PDPEnrollment
. Accessed August 31, 2009.


New Salary Survey

Every two years, The Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology (ATPO), in collaboration with JCAHPO, conducts a comprehensive national survey highlighting wage, benefit, and salary analysis for ophthalmic medical personnel (OMP). The report is designed to give employees and employers a clear, relevant understanding of the professional trends in compensation for ophthalmic allied health personnel.

How much do COTs make in New York City? Chicago? Sandusky, OH? The 2009 National Salary & Benefits Report for OMP answers these, and many more questions, with detailed data from five sections:

  • Demographics (age, ethnic backgrounds, employment)
  • Professional and Educational Information
  • Practice Information
  • Benefits
  • Compensation

Get your copy of this must-have professional publication by visiting the JCAHPO Bookstore.


2009 ACE Program A Success

We would like to thank all attendees and participants who made the 2009 ACE program in San Francisco, CA a thrilling success. Volunteer faculty, staff, JCAHPO Commissioners, and attendees traveled from around the world to take part in this exclusive career development event for ophthalmic medical personnel. Thank you to everyone for making this year’s program especially memorable.

If you missed this year’s program, mark your calendars for the 2010 ACE program in Chicago, IL, October 15-18. Visit www.jcahpo.org regularly for educational programs coming to your region.

In support of continuing education and certification for OMP, be sure to watch for these upcoming learning opportunities:


Left: Stein Prize recipient Holly Bope, COA. Right: President of the JCAHPO Education and Research Foundation, Peter C. Donshik, MD.

Harold A. Stein, MD Prize

The recipient of the 2009 Harold A. Stein, MD Prize for Best Scientific Paper is Holly Bope, COA, of Rushville, OH. She was honored at the 2009 ACE Program in San Francisco, CA. She received a $2,000 award for her winning paper titled, “Why Am I So Nearsighted?”.

Visit the Foundation Web site for information on eligibility requirements for the 2010 Harold A. Stein, MD award, and other prize and scholarship opportunities.


2009 Continuing Education Scholarships

Congratulations to the following recipients of Continuing Education (CE) Scholarships. These individuals were recently honored at the 2009 ACE program in San Francisco, CA.

CE Scholarship recipients at the 2009 ACE program in San Francisco, CA. Not all recipients pictured.
  • Christine Crandall
  • Dorcas Fikejs, COA
  • Karen Foulks, COT
  • Yodit Hailemeskel, COA
  • Inga Henderson
  • Erica Huesca, COA
  • Vu Huynh
  • Eva Kroneker CCOA
  • Lazantriel Nelson
  • Carol Pollack-Rundle, COMT
  • Shellee Rockwell, COA
  • Gloria Shuster, COT
  • Bradley Stern
  • Shelly Valardi, COT
  • Barbara Walton, COT
  • Rachel Watney, COT, ROUB
  • Judith Whitehead, COT
  • Sheryl Wizov, COA

Visit the Foundation Web site for available scholarships in 2010.


Virginia S. Boyce: 1912-2009

Remembering Virginia Boyce

We announced in the July issue of Eye Lights, that long-time service advocate for ophthalmic personnel, Virginia S. Boyce, passed away at the age of 96. As JCAHPO Public Advisor (1982-1992) and as President and Chair of JCAHPO’s Education and Research Foundation (1990-2000), Virginia embodied the spirit of service and leadership among ophthalmic personnel. Out of respect, we honor and remember her life and legacy in the ophthalmic allied health field.

Virginia’s introduction to the eye care profession began many years ago. She first joined the National Society to Prevent Blindness (NSPB) (now Prevent Blindness America) in 1937 as a research assistant. After decades of work within the organization, she was eventually appointed Executive Director of the NSPB in 1972. Ten years later she professionally retired from the position, but her service work continued.

The NSPB was near to Virginia’s heart, and she had an innate understanding of what it meant to be blind. The challenges facing the vision impaired moved her, and she took her work on their behalf seriously. She was a woman ahead of her time, and realized that blindness was not just an issue in the United States. Ultimately, it was a global issue that required the energy, commitment, and resources of the entire international eye care community. Virginia spent a great deal of time bringing attention to blindness through lectures at educational events around the world. She served as Secretary of the Board of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness for six years, retiring in 1994. Her work with the NSPB totaled 45 years, which included organizing, teaching, helping others, and advancing preventative health care throughout the world.

In 1960, she was initiated as a member of the Delta Gamma Fraternity at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. During her time with the organization she made a lasting impact. In 1970, she was honored with The Order of the Delta Gamma Rose, one of the organization’s most prestigious awards honoring outstanding members.

In retrospect, her role as a champion for blindness prevention would be the defining characteristic of her life. She established regular school vision screenings and industrial eye safety programs in countless communities, public and professional education in eye health, and a national Home Eye Test for Preschoolers.

Her work as a professional was also greatly respected, with numerous distinguished health care groups seeking her counsel. She served on the Board of Directors of the National Health Council, and was a member of the American Public Health Association, the American School Health Association, the American College Health Association, the National Coalition for Disease Prevention and Environmental Health, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and the Pan American Association of Ophthalmology. She was also a member of the American Association of University Women, the American Society of Association Executives, and the Health Foundation of Benedictine Hospital and Medical Center of Kingston, New York.

Few figures have impacted the role of ophthalmic personnel in modern eye care more than Virginia Boyce. Her work with JCAHPO as Public Advisor and long-time friend will be forever remembered and greatly missed.


CSOMP President Marc Lafontaine, COMT (left) presents CSOMP's donation to JCAHPO President William H. Ehlers, MD (right).

Thank You Contributors

The JCAHPO Education and Research Foundation thanks the Canadian Society of Ophthalmic Medical Personnel (CSOMP) for its generous donation of $1,000 in honor of Virginia S. Boyce. The donation was presented to JCAHPO President William H. Ehlers, MD, by CSOMP President Marc Lafontaine, COMT in Minnesota late last summer. Virginia S. Boyce, who recently passed away, was a long-time advocate of education and training opportunities for ophthalmic personnel.

Additional thanks to the American Association of Certified Orthoptists (AACO) for their generous contribution of $1,000 in 2009.

The Education and Research Foundation appreciates the support it receives from all contributors. These contributions provide valuable financial support for continuing education and certification opportunities for ophthalmic allied health personnel. Visit the JCAHPO Education and Research Foundation's Web site for more information on available programs and services.


Congratulations Ophthalmic Photographers' Society (OPS)

This fall, one of JCAHPO’s longtime member organizations is celebrating 40 years since its founding. The Ophthalmic Photographers’ Society (OPS) is the nation’s leading society of eye imaging experts. Founded in 1969, the organization specializes in medical photography pertaining to the field of ophthalmology. Continuing education and the promotion of standards among ophthalmic photographers to advance technology and understanding of the eye have been the organization’s mission from the beginning.

OPS first submitted an application for membership to JCAHPO in 1972 and was approved shortly thereafter. Since then, JCAHPO and OPS have coordinated on continuing education programs and initiatives that support certification and standards for highly-trained eye care professionals.

JCAHPO appreciates the years of service by the OPS that have raised the performance of OMP and the level of available care worldwide.


International Core Curriculum

In 2009, JCAHPO partnered with the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) as part of the International Task Force on Para-Ophthalmic Vision Specialists Education program to produce the “International Core Curriculum for Ophthalmic Assistants.” The publication identifies the ophthalmic allied health personnel shortage at the international level and outlines a standardized educational and training curriculum to improve the level of care currently available.

In addition to defining educational and training solutions for the international eye care community, the document highlights the importance of new members of an eye care team who have little or no training. This demographic is identified as the most valuable resource that the international community has in the campaign to increase the availability of global eye care.

JCAHPO thanks its leadership and certificants who strengthen the value of ophthalmic medical personnel worldwide. With the global shortage of OMP in developing nations, integrating standards for training and performance is vital. JCAHPO and ICO’s partnership is a significant step in the campaign to eliminate global blindness.

Click here to view the “International Core Curriculum for Ophthalmic Assistants.”


2009 Virginia Boyce Service Award Recipient

2009 Virginia Boyce Service Award Winner Helen Metzler, COA, of Sacramento, CA.

Congratulations to the 2009 Virginia Boyce Service Award Recipient, Helen Metzler, COA of Sacramento, CA. Ms. Metzler is a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of California/Davis. Over the past 11 years, she has participated in 7 medical/optical missions to Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Mexico. On these missions, she interpreted for medical personnel, conducted eye health screening and education, and dispensed eyeglasses.

She has had a permanent and enduring impact on local populations through training local volunteers in eye glass repair and eye health screening. In the U.S., she coordinated a Sight for Students outreach, and has solicited physicians and industry for donations of medications, instruments, and supplies. Her article “Ophthalmic Personnel Respond to Global Eye Health Needs” is an approved “CE on the Internet” article on ATPO’s Web site. She has multiplied her service in developing nations by reaching out to other ophthalmic medical personnel, and by training local individuals to continue the work.

Ms. Metzler has dedicated her career to global outreach in the same spirit of service of Virginia Boyce. The JCAHPO Education and Research Foundation was pleased to honor her at the 2009 ACE Dinner and Awards Ceremony.

Do you know an eye care professional volunteering in your community? Visit the Foundation Web site for award criteria and submit an application for the 2010 Virginia Boyce Service Award.


New Test Scheduling and Cancellation Deadlines

Effective January 1, 2010, the following changes to the guidelines for rescheduling or cancelling an examination appointment with Prometric:

Cancellation/Reschedule Period Cancellation/Rescheduling Fee
30 or more days before test date None
5-29 days before the scheduled test date $25 (to be collected by Prometric from the candidate)
Less than 5 days before the test date No-show fee paid to JCAHPO*
Fail to appear for a scheduled test or arrive more than 15 minutes after the scheduled start time No-show fee paid to JCAHPO

Contact JCAHPO’s Certification Department at (800) 284-3937 for further questions.


COA Examination Update; COMT Computer-Simulated Performance Test

The COA Multiple-Choice Examination update will be released in early 2010. Please continue to check the JCAHPO Web site for the specific release date.

The COMT Computer-Simulated Performance Test release date has been postponed until early-to-mid 2010. The examination will test the following areas:

  • Measure Strabismus
  • Version & Duction
  • Pupil Evaluation
  • Fundus Photography & Fluorescein Angiography
  • Neutralize Spectacle Lenses with a Manual Lensometer

COMT candidates who have not previously completed the COT Skill Evaluation will also need to complete the examination. Please continue to check the JCAHPO Web site for further updates.


Phone: (651) 731-2944 / (800) 284-3937    FAX: (651) 731-0410    International: 00 1 651.731.2944

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