View the latest updates from the American Board of Ophthalmology COVID-19 Information Center.

Candidate Email 03-26-20

ABO Email to Oral Examination Candidates (3/26/20)

Dear Candidates,

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the country and around the globe, my colleagues and I at the American Board of Ophthalmology hope that you and your loved ones are faring well. Particularly for those of you in fellowship training, we recognize that you may have been reassigned from ophthalmic duties to help care for patients infected with the corona virus or who have other general medical issues. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

We continue to explore options for providing you with a pathway to initial certification following the cancellation of last week’s planned Oral Examination in Phoenix. To help guide our planning, we would be grateful for your input through a brief survey to be completed no later than Wednesday, April 1.
In brief, we are working under the assumption that the vast majority of you would prefer to (1) obtain your certification as soon as possible and (2) would rather do so through some type of online or virtual exercise instead of traveling to a venue for an in-person examination. If that hypothesis is true, then we will continue to investigate ways to administer a substitute examination remotely. This would be a major undertaking because, as mentioned in my previous messages, an online oral examination is “uncharted territory” for any certifying board. Typically, transitioning from one examination format to another requires at least three years to address multiple testing standards but we recognize that the current situation is exceptional and will require much innovation.
If, however, we learn that our assumptions are incorrect, then we have more options and more time to address the consequences of COVID-19. Thank you for telling us what you think.


* We are continuing to investigate options for administering the Oral Examination in various ways.
* The seven-year board eligibility window following graduation from residency will be extended by one year if you are unable to sit for the Oral Examination in 2020.
* Paid examination fees will be credited to the next administration; there is no need to re-register.

Each week, we will continue to update you on our progress and look forward to sharing the outcomes of this survey with you in a future email.

For more than a century, the ABO has accomplished its mission to serve the public and the profession through the volunteerism of thousands of practicing ophthalmologists – your colleagues. The current challenges provide a new and unprecedented opportunity to improve the certification process. We hope that many of you will elect to work with us now and in the future to do just that.


George B. Bartley, MD
Chief Executive Officer