In the 1980s most states had a very limited scope of practice for optometrists consisting of refraction and contact lens fitting. In the 41 years that have followed, the practice of optometry has grown to fill a much-needed gap in primary eye care. Keeping up with the ever-expanding scope of practice is professionally exciting, but can be a challenge for regulatory agencies to ensure that their licensees have mastered the new skills.
When deciding scope-of-practice issues, legislators will ask how this increased scope will be tested to assure competency. This often leaves the State Boards searching for an answer. Fortunately, the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO), ARBO’s exam partner, can help with this task. NBEO is constantly updating examinations to meet the expanding needs of State Boards and the Laser and Surgical Procedures Examination (LSPE™) is the newest example.
LSPE is the only nationally standardized examination of its kind, in measuring competency in laser and surgical skills, surgical decision-making, and patient management. LSPE is a stand-alone, elective exam containing both a laser and surgical section. Each of these sections contain performance of clinical skills and computer-based multiple-choice items. The exam is offered to fourth-year optometric students, optometric residents, and optometric practitioners.
The clinical skills portion covers the following:
- Selective laser trabeculoplasty
- Peripheral iridotomy
- YAG capsulotomy
- Chalazion excision
The multiple-choice section covers, in addition to the above topics:
- Eyelid surgery
- Ocular anesthesia
For States looking to expand into lasers and surgical procedures in the future, LSPE can be an important tool to assure legislators that ‘testing for competency’ is already in place. Like the other NBEO regulatory licensing examinations, LSPE is valid, uniform, and defensible. More information on LSPE can be found at https://www.optometry.org/exams/lspe.