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

Candidate Email 04-17-20

Dear Candidates,

Thank you for working with the ABO to improve the certification process.

What’s New

  • Our planning team has made good progress during the past week developing the VOE20 (Virtual Oral Examination – 2020). We are aiming to retain as many features of the traditional Oral Examination as possible, such as the approximately three-hour duration of the exam, the use of representative case vignettes with supplementary photographs and test results, and the ability for the Examiner and the Candidate to discuss each case. This is the format for which you have been preparing and we wish to avoid making major structural alterations during this inaugural virtual administration. One change that we envision, however, is for three Examiners to be in the virtual “room” with each candidate, rather than a one-to-one arrangement as has been used for many years, as doing so will improve the reliability of the assessment.
  • While we address many details and issues, we thought that some of you might be interested in learning more about the Oral Examination. To that end, we are developing a series of short videos about the history of the exam, why it was developed, what is known about virtual testing options, how exam validity and reliability are achieved, how the examiners are selected and trained, how the exam is scored, tips to help you prepare, and more. The first video is a discussion with Dr. Bruce Spivey, one of the most influential leaders in ophthalmology worldwide during the past 50 years.

What’s Stayed the Same

  • The seven-year board eligibility window following graduation from residency will be extended by one year if you are unable to sit for the VOE in 2020.
  • Paid examination fees will be credited to the next administration; there is no need to reregister.

What You Can Expect Next

We hope to conduct initial field testing of the VOE20 with a group of ABO Directors and diplomate volunteers within the next two to three weeks. We then will have a better idea about when we can proceed with a “live” pilot administration with 50-100 candidates, followed by at least three oral examination dates for this year’s remaining candidates.

Finally, I wish to thank those of you who have offered helpful suggestions about the VOE20 and
the encouragement that several of you have shared. We appreciate your patience, understanding, and collaboration as we move forward together.
George B. Bartley, MD