In today's competitive health care environment, the most efficient and productive ophthalmic practices have a strong competitive advantage. Since JCAHPO began certifying ophthalmic medical personnel in 1969, many ophthalmologists have discovered the benefits of hiring certified employees. There is considerable evidence that certified ophthalmic assistants, technicians, and technologists increase productivity, patient satisfaction, and practice efficiency.

Certification Exam Content

The JCAHPO certification process is examination-based. The examination for each level is based on research conducted every five years to determine the typical tasks performed by ophthalmic assistants, technicians, medical technologists, and surgical assistants. These tasks are grouped into categories, and the examinations are designed to include questions pertaining to each category.

Certification Verification

Ophthalmic employers understand the importance of verifying the credentials of job candidates and employees. Job candidates and employees may print a verification form by logging into their account at www.jcahpo.org, going into My Account, and clicking on Certification Status. Employers may request verification by calling the Certification Department at 800-284-3937 or via email to jcahpo@jcahpo.org. There will be a fee of $5.00 per person for requests of 10 or more.

Recruitment and Training

There is currently a significant shortage of qualified ophthalmic assistants, technicians, and technologists in the U.S. JCAHPO and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recently launched a website to assist ophthalmic employers with recruiting, training, and retaining qualified ophthalmic medical personnel.

This website provides tools needed to recruit new personnel, including sample job descriptions, lists of places to find allied health professionals, sample classified ads, compensation data, and more.

In addition, JCAHPO has developed a package of print and CD-ROM resources to assist employers in providing on-the-job training for new employees. The Allied Health On-the-Job Training Tool Kit includes the Ophthalmic Medical Assisting Independent Study Course and exam, "Fundamentals of Ophthalmic Medical Assisting" DVD, a booklet titled "Introducing Ophthalmology: A Primer for Office Staff," and JCAHPO Learning Systems 1-6 CD-ROMs.

Employing Veterans

U.S. employers can benefit from tax credits for employing veterans under new legislation passed in November 2011. The "VOW to Hire Heroes Act" provides tax credits at various levels: up to $2,400 for hiring veterans who have been unemployed for more than four weeks but less than six months, up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been unemployed for at least six months, and up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service- related disabilities who have been unemployed for at least six months.