The Board of Registration in Optometry voted at its regular meeting on June 18, 2014, to adopt the following policy guidelines:

Policy No.: 14-001

Purpose: To establish uniform criteria for reviewing and approving continuing education courses and programs to ensure that the education is under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified speakers.  The criteria established are the minimum requirements and are meant to be consistent with the intent of the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education (COPE) standards to establish continuity for all providers.  This document outlines, at a minimum, the information that must be submitted to receive Board approval to conduct courses and programs acceptable for awarding continuing education credits for optometrist registration renewal requirements.

Policy:

The following are the Board guidelines for review and approval of continuing education courses and programs:

  1. Course Information to be supplied by the Course or Program Sponsor
    1. The date the application for approval is submitted. A minimum of sixty (60) days must be allowed for the review process as required under 246 CMR 2.01(4)(d)(1)(a).
    2. The name of the Sponsor and his or her address, phone/fax numbers and email address so that the Board may contact the Sponsor with questions concerning the application.  Notification of action on the application will be sent to the Sponsor.
    3. The time and location of the course.
    4. Provisions for adequate monitoring of attendance, and satisfactory assurances that the course is generally available to all Optometrists.
    5. The name and curriculum vitae of any speakers who participate in the presentation of the course, including any co-speakers.  A co-speaker is any individual who, in conjunction with a primary speaker, assists and participates in the presentation of a course, but also has the necessary qualifications to give the course independently of the primary speaker should the primary speaker be unavailable.  Sponsors must file for independent Board approval for a course that may be, or is desired to be, presented separately by both the primary and co-speaker.
    6. The names and curriculum vitae of any adjunct/assistant speakers who participate in the presentation of the course.  An adjunct speaker is an individual whose main function is to support the primary speaker with the presentation or preparation of a course.  An adjunct speaker may or may not be present to assist with the presentation of a course, however, an adjunct speaker is not approved, under any circumstance, to present a course in place, or in the absence of, the primary speaker.
    7. The title, adequately describing the course, as it will appear in all future programs.
    8. The total continuing education hours of the course.  To be qualified, a course must have at least 1 continuing education hour but not be more than four hours in length.  One continuing education hour is equivalent to a minimum of 50 minutes of instructional time; two continuing education hours are equivalent to a minimum of 1 hour and 40 minutes of instructional time. 

  1. Course Description to be supplied by the Course or Program Sponsor

A brief course description, in addition to the detailed outline required under 246 CMR 2.01(4)(d)(1)(c)(ii), that summarizes in 35 words or less what the speaker(s) intends to present.  Such description must be suitable for publishing.

  1. Disclosure of Financial / Proprietary Interests

The sponsor must disclose on the application any direct financial or proprietary interests he or she may have in any of the companies, products, pharmaceuticals or services intended to be mentioned in the presentation.  The Board will assess whether such an interest inappropriately influences the course material. 

Examples of the influence of proprietary interests include but are not limited to: (1) the absence of unbiased evidence equally assessing similar products or services; (2) the exclusion of other products or services that might reasonably be expected to produce equivalent or similar results; or (3) the inference of the superiority of the proprietary product or service over others.

The sponsor must also disclose if he or she has provided for-profit support of any kind, are a paid consultant to, an employee of, or serve as an officer on the board of companies mentioned in their presentation.  Sponsors must certify on their applications that this information will be disclosed at the beginning of the presentation to the audience in a clear and unambiguous manner, verbally and in writing in the course outline.

  1. Course Categories to be supplied by the Course or Program Sponsor

While a course or program may pertain to several course categories, there is usually one major topic which will cover most of the time and discussion and which will best match one of the categories.  The speaker should identify one of the following categories which best describes the educational experience provided by the course or program:

    1. Clinical Optometry
    2. Ocular Disease
    3. Related Systemic Disease
    4. Optometric Business Management
  1. Course Presentation to be supplied by the Course or Program Sponsor

The sponsor must disclose how the course material will be presented.  Courses may be presented by more than one method but must be conducted in person within the state of Massachusetts.  Indicate the amount of time that will be allotted for each method during the course.  The time allotments for all methods should total the entire number of hours in the course.

Discussion: The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Optometry (Board) approves continuing education courses and programs pursuant to Board regulations promulgated at 246 CMR 2.01(4).  Continuing education courses and programs are automatically approved by the Board in two instances: (1) the course or program is offered by a continuing education entity approved by the Board under 246 CMR 2.01(4)(e); or (2) the course or program has received COPE approval.  The standards of review outlined in this policy are applicable only to courses and programs that are not eligible for automatic approval and therefore require independent Board review.  The purpose of this policy is to follow, to the extent permitted by Board regulations, standards of review that are uniform with the COPE standards to establish sound measures for continuing education course evaluation and consistency for all providers.