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

Eligibility Policy for Residents Graduating in 2020

Statement on the Impact of COVID-19 on Board Eligibility

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. The Board wishes to support all ophthalmologists whose training, practice, and personal lives have been changed in unexpected ways by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ABO has always relied on the judgment of department chairs and program directors to verify the competence of each individual resident and will continue to do so.

Residency training in ophthalmology traditionally comprises 48 months following graduation from medical school, including a 12-month internship and at least 36 months of ACGME-accredited ophthalmology training. ABO board eligibility policy requires that a satisfactory rating be confirmed by the residency program for each of the ACGME competencies. Depending on the length of absence or the inability to accomplish residency educational goals during the traditional 48-month training period, the required time for graduate medical education may be extended accordingly.

Residency program leadership, not the ABO, determines the need for any extension of residency training and the ultimate completion date for each resident, for any reason, including COVID-19. However, less than six months of training at any PGY level is not acceptable for board certification.   

At this time, the ABO is proceeding as planned with the September 30, 2020 administration of the Written Qualifying Examination (WQE) at Pearson Vue test centers. The deadline to register for this examination is June 1, 2020.  Late registrations will be accepted with a $300 late fee until August 1, 2020. The ABO will be as flexible as possible to accommodate residents who may graduate after the established deadlines and wish to sit for the September 30, 2020 WQE.

Candidates registered for the September 30, 2020 written qualifying examinations are currently able to schedule their test appointment at Pearson Vue test center, however, appointment availability may be limited or unavailable in some states or regions due to social distancing precautions and state regulations regarding the operation of non-essential businesses. The ABO will continue to monitor the availability of Pearson Vue test centers and is working to identify options for individuals who are unable to take the WQE at a Pearson Vue test center.