Here is the guide for the North Carolina optometry examination!
Obtaining a license to practice optometry is easier in some states than others. North Carolina has notoriously been known to have a very challenging examination process for licensure. Recently having gone through this process, I can attest that their reputation stands true. This article will provide you with a few tips on how to approach the big day.
Registration for the North Carolina optometry examination:
1) Check eligibility. Depending on when you graduated from optometry school, there are specific NBEO requirements that have to be met for eligibility.
2) Select a test date. Held twice a year, the summer examination occurs in late July/early August and is known to be the primary administration. It’s usually composed of new graduates from the spring. A list of the board approved examination dates and application deadlines are listed here.
3) Register early. The North Carolina State Board application deadline is approximately two months before the proposed examination date. Don’t procrastinate on registering! Unless you have a valid explanation, the board is very firm with their deadlines.
4) Budget accordingly. Registering for the examination will cost you $800, an initial payment of $50 to obtain an application followed by a $750 payment to be sent in with your completed application. The total fee includes your license fee for the first year – if you pass. Not to mention, you may incur travel, hotel and miscellaneous expenses along the way.
5) Find a notary. Enclosed in your application is an affidavit which you are required to sign, have notarized and return with your completed application stating that you had the opportunity to review the rules, laws and regulations provided. This must be taken care of before the application deadline.
6) Send transcripts. The board needs a copy of your undergraduate and optometry school transcripts to complete your application.
Preparation for the North Carolina optometry examination:
1) Review examination format.
Each applicant in the August 2017 examination will rotate through 3 rooms with 2 cases each, and 2 rooms with 3 cases each. Beginning with the February 2018 examination, there will be 5 rooms with 2 cases each. Clinical Procedures are no longer be tested, as the National Board Part III Clinical Skills results are now accepted.
Each room is a virtual exam room, with the applicant being able to request any information they feel pertinent to the case. Each case will be something that an optometrist is likely to experience in clinical practice. No information about the candidate is disclosed to the examiners at any time.
All of this information can be accessed here.
- Patient scenarios. Lather, rinse and repeat. This portion of the examination is composed of oral case reports administered in the subjective, objective, assessment, plan (S.O.A.P.) format. Each station has a panel of two to three examiners who will be presenting patient scenarios. It’s in your best interest to be efficient with your time yet comprehensive. If you get stuck on a case, move to the next one and back track later, if time allows. Remember to perform a complete examination on each patient scenario (which includes following a logical sequence and performing/ordering the correct specialized testing). Don’t be surprised if the examiners question your clinical decision making.
- Clinical procedures. Clinical Procedures are no longer tested.
2) Select resources. Commonly used books to prepare for the North Carolina State Board are the The Wills Eye Manual, The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Review Manual for Ophthalmology and the KMK Part II Study Guide. Your optometry school disease course notes may also be helpful. Since the material on the examination is broad, it’s beneficial to use as many resources as possible. Lastly, be familiar with landmark clinical studies that impact the treatment and management of ocular pathology.
3) Create a study schedule. Whether you’re fresh out of optometry school or have been practicing for years, motivation to study can be hard to come by. Create a study schedule and stick to it. You’ve taken tons of tests so what’s one more – right? Personally, I felt a month of dedicated preparation was adequate. My recommendation is to prepare as if you were taking a national board examination.
4) Review pictures. Each patient scenario will have a clinical picture, specialized testing or both. Review as many pictures from textbooks or online as you can. Furthermore, make sure to spend time interpreting data from OCTs, visual fields, MRIs and CT Scans. Don’t forget about lab testing!
5) Practice makes perfect. Both the patient scenarios and clinical procedures portions of the examination requires lots of practice. Find an optometry classmate or colleague who is willing to verbally go over cases (allowing you to practice “talking out” clinical scenarios in a S.O.A.P. format). Don’t forget to reward them with a nice dinner or a night out since this may not be the most pleasant activity to partake in. Also, time yourself going through the process. This will help gauge if you are be able to talk through three cases in twenty one minutes while under pressure. Once you have found someone willing to sit for you, practice your clinical skills on them before showing up for the examination (you won’t know if someone has a strong blink reflex or difficulty with bright lights unless you take the time to practice first).
6) Relax. Entering the examination with the appropriate preparation and a clear mind is the best way to go. Keep your confidence throughout the examination and hope for the best! After you’re done, do the best to take your minds off things and forget any rough patches you may have encountered.
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