August 20, 2019

The New Part III Exam – Not Just a Skills Test

The National Board of Examiners of Optometry is in the process of revamping Part III CSE (Clinical Skills Exam).  This is a major undertaking and will have a lot of moving parts to put it together. The reason for the update follows the path of progressive, comprehensive healthcare. The standards of care have changed so that it is no longer adequate to simply test whether an applicant can perform a specific clinical skill. The applicant must know why the skill is important and how will it help guide treatment.  As doctors in our clinics, we can teach a tech to perform many of the clinical skills we use on a day-to-day basis. What separates the doctors from the tech is the in-depth knowledge of why a procedure is being performed, to accurately interpret the results and develop a treatment plan.

The new Part III will continue to test clinical skills, but will also introduce more cognitive skills relating to specific procedures.  This change will introduce a more accurate and robust indication of entry-to-practice. Your board can be assured that applicants for licensure are meeting the standards for a changing and progressive profession.

The NBEO does not work in a vacuum; feedback from stakeholders is crucial. The NBEO recently conducted a stakeholder survey to understand which skills stakeholders felt were most essential. A job task analysis, tentatively planned for early 2020, will sample a broad base of the profession to ensure that the new test accurately reflects the clinical and cognitive knowledge for entry-level practice.

These are cognitive processes that we do every day, so is it enough to just test the skill without testing the reasons behind it? This is the future of entry-to-practice testing.

ARBO will keep you informed on the progress of Part III.