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Newly Created Program Supports ABO Examiners with Training, Feedback, and CME

The SpaceX launch in October 2018.

Last October, I left the American Board of Ophthalmology Oral Examination in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles to visit my son, who had just moved across the country. The night I arrived, we walked out of his apartment and noticed a group of people standing in the street, staring up into the sky. We looked up and saw something that resembled Daenerys Targaryen's dragons flying overhead. With Hollywood nearby, I figured it was some kind of special effect for a movie production. But it was actually the first SpaceX Falcon 9 launch and landing on the West Coast.

As I watched the lights move across the sky, I thought about the people at SpaceX who worked behind the scenes to make that moment possible, combining their individual talents and areas of expertise in support of a common goal. In some ways, it reminded me of how hundreds of subject matter experts, from every unique subspecialty and practice area in ophthalmology, had just come together to deliver an examination.

Admittedly, getting an Oral Examination off the ground is not as complex as launching a satellite into orbit, but it does require extensive planning, teamwork, and dedication—especially on the part of our volunteers.

That’s why, to better support our examiners in the work they do in service to patients and their profession, we’re introducing a new training program designed to help our volunteers learn more about the science and structure behind the examination process, continuously improve their skills and consistency in examining, and earn valuable Continuing Medical Education (CME) in the process.

Though examiners already participate in extensive training focused on ABO standards and processes, and they receive access to educational videos and manuals, the new training program will offer enhanced learning options (such as webinars) along with opportunities to receive personalized examination performance feedback. The program has four pillars:

1. Demonstrating appropriate professionalism and respect for candidates

2. Understanding examination content and skillfully questioning candidates

3. Delivering an oral examination in accordance with ABO guidelines

4. Appropriately scoring candidates

Beginning in June, examiners will become eligible for 5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits each time they examine. Participation in a pre-exam webinar will count as one learning unit towards the CME; other learning units may be earned on-site during orientation, category meetings, and examination panel sessions. Additional training sessions, and the delivery of new performance feedback, are scheduled to begin with the September Oral Examination.

If you have questions about the ABO's volunteer program, or would like to become part of our team of volunteers, please contact me at

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