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Candidate Communication 06-02-20
I’m pleased to bring you the dates and details of the Virtual Oral Examination 2020 (VOE20). Please read this message in its entirety before taking any action.
Submit Your Scheduling Preferences by Friday, June 12
Please use this online form
to indicate your examination scheduling preferences no later than Friday, June 12 so that we can provide you with a VOE20 assignment. Candidates selected for the July 11-12 pilot exam have been notified separately. The examination options available to you are:
- Saturday, August 29 - Sunday, August 30, administered in Central Time
- Saturday, September 12 - Sunday, September 13, administered in Pacific Time
- Saturday, November 7 - Sunday, November 8, administered in Central Time
We will make every effort to honor your scheduling preferences; however, we cannot guarantee a particular examination weekend, day, or time of day. If you do not submit a response by Friday, June 12, you may not be scheduled for an examination this year.
Please review the remainder of this email and the Candidate Procedures Manual
prior to submitting your response.
Once you submit your scheduling preferences, no further action is requested. You will receive an email from your assigned ABO Candidate Concierge the week of June 15 with the exact date and time of your exam along with an invitation to set up a pre-exam on-boarding session and equipment check.
The VOE20: A Big-Picture Overview
The Virtual Oral Examination is the online version of the exam you originally prepared to take in Phoenix in March; the key difference is that you will be interacting with your Examiners via a video link instead. Complete details are located in the Candidate Procedures Manual
, which you can view online or download as a PDF. Please take some time to read the manual
in its entirety. For your convenience, the key points are summarized below:
- You will not need to travel to a test center, but you will need to identify a quiet, distraction-free room in your home or office where you can participate in the examination.
- You will need a laptop or desktop computer with a webcam and a reliable internet connection. Technical specifications are detailed in the Candidate Procedures Manual and will be reviewed with you by your Candidate Concierge prior to your exam.
- When instructed, you will need to download and install the free Zoom application. You will not be asked to download or operate any additional online platforms or exam delivery software.
- Because of the complexities of scheduling approximately 650 candidates for the VOE20, once you’ve been assigned to a specific date and time the ABO will not be able to reschedule your examination.
Exam Design & Delivery:
- You will be assigned to a specific examination day and time (referred to as a session). Each examination session lasts four hours and includes a candidate orientation as well as break time.
- During your exam, you will have an opportunity to answer a total of 42 questions, which we call Patient Management Problems (PMPs). The total number of PMPs is broken up into three 50-minute exam appointments of 14 PMPs each.
- Each of your three 50-minute exam appointments will cover two distinct topic areas as outlined below (7 PMPs per topic area, 14 PMPs per appointment, 42 PMPs per exam session):
- Anterior Segment of the Eye AND Optics, Visual Physiology, and Correction of Refractive Errors
- Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus AND External Eye and Adnexa
- Neuro-Ophthalmology and Orbit AND Posterior Segment of the Eye
- The Oral Examination is designed to simulate the care of patients in a clinical setting. We wish to hear your approach to each PMP using the provided case details.
- Your Examiners will present each PMP for discussion and may show you images or video via screen share. You may ask your Examiners to repeat/replay images or videos or to view additional images. At no time, however, will you need to control the screen or operate the slides.
- In your answer to each PMP, you will be assessed on your ability to incorporate the cognitive knowledge that you successfully demonstrated on the Written Qualifying Examination with the judgment needed to appropriately care for the described patient according to scoring criteria established for Data Acquisition, Diagnosis, and Management.
- Because the Oral Examination is strictly an assessment, not an educational activity, you will not receive feedback or coaching from your Examiners, nor will you receive an appraisal of your performance during or following the session. Within 2-4 weeks, you will be notified in Pass/Fail format only as to whether you have met the standards for board certification in ophthalmology.
- Participating in a pre-exam on-boarding and equipment check appointment with your Candidate Concierge is required. You will not be permitted to test if you have not scheduled a Candidate Concierge appointment at least 10 days prior to your exam. You will receive instructions about how and when to do this after June 15.
- The ABO believes in the premise “trust but verify.” We trust that in the pursuit of board certification, you will conduct yourself with respect for the certification credential, your professional reputation, and your patients. However, we also will ask you to comply with basic security and identity verification measures to ensure fairness for all candidates and to protect the integrity of the exam.
- It is a violation of federal law to reproduce, in whole or in part, ABO examination content in any way. Candidates who share or receive ABO examination content also risk the lifetime loss of eligibility for board certification. Of note, there is no advantage to providing content to or receiving content from other candidates because the questions for each examination form will be unique.
- We have taken into account the potential challenges of online exam delivery and have adjusted our policies and processes accordingly. Please carefully read the Candidate Procedures Manual for information about technical specifications, in-exam troubleshooting, and rescheduling policies in the event of a computer or internet glitch.
A Final Word of Thanks
It has been a pleasure and a privilege corresponding with you as we make history together by creating the first-ever online Oral Examination. In fact, I was recently invited to write about this unique situation in an editorial for Ophthalmology
, which you can read here
. Thank you for your patience, support, and professionalism.
The next time you hear from the ABO, it will be from the Candidate Concierge assigned to guide you through the remainder of the process. On behalf of all the Directors and staff of the ABO, I wish you the very best as you proceed to the examination.
George B. Bartley, MD
Chief Executive Officer
American Board of Ophthalmology Statement (Updated 5/10/20)
During this unique and challenging time in American medicine, the American Board of Ophthalmology remains dedicated to its mission to serve the public and the profession. We are prepared to be flexible in support of all board-certified ophthalmologists whose practices and personal lives have been changed in unexpected ways by the spread of COVID-19.
- *New* Read the new Ophthalmology article in press, COVID-19 and the American Board of Ophthalmology: When the Best-Laid Plans Go Awry, by ABO CEO Dr. George B. Bartley, which chronicles the ABO's response to the pandemic.
- *New* Read ABO Diplomate and Examiner Dr. Kelly Green’s rallying cry for ophthalmologists about being a super transformer in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Many of our colleagues requested that we release Quarterly Questions content ahead of schedule so that they can use unanticipated downtime productively. The second quarter’s installment, originally slated for release on April 1st, was distributed by email on March 24th.
- With the help of many dedicated ophthalmologist volunteers, we released new COVID-19-related article-based material for Quarterly Questions on March 31st.
- Additional questions written for articles on patient safety, quality improvement, professionalism, and a range of subspecialty topics, were released on April 30th.
- More than 200 diplomates have embraced a new option for creating Improvement in Medical Practice projects that are designed to improve the care of patients with COVID-19 and to protect the health of ophthalmologists and their staff. Completion earns credit for one Improvement in Medical Practice activity.
- Newly approved CME activities focused on the COVID-19 pandemic are available on the CME Finder Menu. These activities may be counted toward the ABO's requirement for lifelong learning and self-assessment.
Providing Flexibility for Changing Circumstances
We understand that, in many cases, the day-to-day activities and priorities of our diplomates have shifted.
- Extensions may be requested by those whose certificates expire on December 31, 2020 to allow additional time to complete Maintenance of Certification (MOC) activities. Email email@example.com to submit a request.
- Similarly, the ABO will consider a reduction or waiver until 2021 of the annual $200 fee for those currently suffering financial hardship. Requests must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please watch your inbox, Diplomate Digest, and the ABO website for further updates, and let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions. Should you find yourself with additional time and would like to get involved with the work of the ABO as a volunteer, please email us.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
Visit the AAO for daily updates on the link between COVID-19 and ophthalmology, ways to keep yourself and your patients safe, and other key resources.
- American Association of Ophthalmic Oncologists and Pathologists
AAOOP has posted new documents containing considerations for the management/triage of ocular oncology patients and for the management of ocular pathology specimens, both in the setting of the COVID pandemic.
- Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education
This page includes a list of accredited continuing education activities and resources to help the physician community respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- The Centers for Disease Control
Up-to-the-minute guidance for health care professionals and the public.
- JAMA Network
Browse the JAMA Network COVID-19 collection, including Q&A's with NIAID's Anthony Fauci, an interactive map of the outbreak courtesy of The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and past publications on vaccine development, infection control, and public health preparedness.
- Mayo Clinic News Network
News and information on COVID-19 from Mayo Clinic.
- National Academy of Medicine
News and resources from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
- National Institutes of Health
The latest research information on COVID-19.
- The New England Journal of Medicine
A collection of articles and other resources on the COVID-19 outbreak, including clinical reports, management guidelines, and commentary.
For information on how to protect yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the following resources: