Optometry - Continuing Education Frequently Asked Questions

Continuing Education FAQs

Why were the rules changed?

For some time the Board of Optometry (board) has wrestled with continuing education (CE)-related inquiries, including approval requests from optometrists having attended general continuing medical education (CME) courses, as well as grand rounds and clinical observation. The Board has been asked to expand the list in WAC 246-851-110 "Courses presumed to qualify for credit", and to consider online education differently. The old rules contained numerous obsolete references.

Where can I get the new rule language?

The new rules are on the Washington State Legislature's website in Chapter 246-851 WAC. Here is a quick-reference table for guidance on the new rule:

When do the new rules go into effect?

January 1, 2016

Will the Board of Optometry continue to provide the post-graduate seminar at Kane Hall?

No. The Optometric Physicians of Washington will now offer the post-graduate seminar.

How are the new rules different?
  • They offer alternatives to "traditional" CE, allowing ODs to meet their CE requirements simply by holding a current Optometric Recognition Award (ORA) or being certified by the American Board of Optometry (ABO).
  • Adopting a system of other health professions, CE is formally arranged in five broad categories, each of which is as generic as practically possible. The net effect is more alternatives that include continuing medical education, grand rounds and clinical observation, and expanded online opportunities.
  • The Board will no longer approve CE for either ODs or CE providers.
Do I have to do something different?

As in the past, you will have to document CE hours for auditing. If you elect an alternative to traditional CE hours, you will need to provide evidence of your ORA or ABO status for auditing.

Will the CE hours I have already accumulated be valid?

Most likely the CE hours you've collected to date within your current CE cycle will meet a new Category definition. Initially, the Board will be lenient, and will consider any ambiguous hours case-by-case when asked.

How will I know that the CE I take in the future meets the new requirements?

As long as your CE courses contribute to your professional knowledge and development, enhance services you provide to patients, and contribute to your ability to deliver current standards of care, they will most likely meet the new requirement. Considering these criteria, if you think that the Board might question a particular course's validity you should probably pursue an alternative course.

How do I comply with the new CE rule?

Choose your method of meeting the requirement:

  • Practice solely outside of Washington state and meet the CE requirements of the state or territory where you practice, or
  • Hold a current Optometric Recognition Award from the American Optometric Association, or
  • Hold a current certification by the American Board of Optometry or other certification program deemed substantially equivalent to American Board of Medical Specialties' programs, or
  • Per WAC 246-12 Part 7, complete and document 50 hours of education that comply with WAC 246-851-090 through 246-851-230. We've created a quick-reference table for guidance on the new rule.
What are "Ophthalmic referral centers, secondary and tertiary ophthalmic specialty providers"?

Generally, non-primary eye care practices that are predominantly referral-only for their specialty services. For optometry services this may include, but is not necessarily limited to, vision therapy or advanced contact lens specialty. For non-optometry, this may include, but is not necessarily limited to, co-management centers or most medical/surgical eye care subspecialists.

Is there a tool to help me track my continuing education?

The Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO) created OE TRACKER to capture and store continuing education data for optometrists. The information is retained in the ARBO database securely and permanently and can be accessed anytime online by you and your licensing board.

Features of OE TRACKER:

  • Unlimited uploading of individual CE attendance certificates.
  • E-mail notification when CE credits are uploaded into your account.
  • Printable CE transcript to submit for license renewal, board certification/maintenance of certification, or credentialing renewal for hospital privileges.

The cost for OE TRACKER is $20 for one year or $45 for 3 years. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact ARBO at (866) 869-6852 or (704) 970-2710 or arbo@arbo.org.