Orthoptists work in ophthalmology -- the branch of medicine devoted to the study and treatment of eye conditions and diseases.
Students of orthoptics must attend a twenty-four month fellowship in an accredited program. Presently, fifteen programs affiliated with medical facilities or universities in the US and Canada offer an Orthoptic curriculum. Orthoptic education includes both didactic and clinical instruction by staff orthoptists and ophthalmologists in a clinical medical center setting. After completing an Orthoptic fellowship, a student earns national certification as an orthoptist through written and practical examinations administered by the American Orthoptic Council.
Eligibility for national certification requires a baccalaureate degree in addition to successful completion of a two year Orthoptic internship. A basic science or health care background is recommended but not mandatory. The Graduate Record Examination is not required.
For those interested in teaching there are opportunities to provide clinical expertise and instruction to medical students, orthoptic students, post doctoral fellows, residents in ophthalmology and clinical staff.
Admission criteria vary from school to school, however; national regulations require completion of a baccalaureate degree prior to sitting for the national certifying exams. A personal interview is customarily part of the admissions process. Applicants may be contacted for an interview after receipt of all required materials. Application deadlines vary; most programs begin either July 1 or September 1 of each year. Space is limited. The cost of a 24-month program is specific to each institution but usually does not exceed $5000. Books and materials may be covered in the cost of tuition. Financial aid and stipends are available at some programs. Inquiries should be made to the Director of the Program.
After satisfactorily completing 24 months of orthoptic training in an AOC accredited program, and upon the recommendation of the supervising orthoptists with whom they have trained, students are eligible to sit for the American Orthoptic Council certifying examinations. National certification by the American Orthoptic Council is obtained through successful completion of a written and oral/practical examination. The written exam is given at all centers on the same day in June, usually the third Wednesday of the month. A candidate earning a passing score is eligible for the oral/practical section of the examination. During the oral/practical exam, which is given every fall at one central location, the candidate is required to examine and discuss a patient and answer questions covering the entire field of study.
Upon successful completion of both sections of the exam, candidates are awarded a Certificate and granted the use of the designation “C.O.” after their names.
To maintain certification an orthoptist must remain in good standing as outlined in the Code of Ethics determined by the American Orthoptic Council and accrue the required number of approved continuing education credits.
The data sources for the information displayed here include: Virginia Career VIEW Research.