World Council of Optometry

Professional Board Composition and Mandate

 

Professional Boards

A regulatory body must be set up and given powers by statute. The purpose of the board is oversight over
the profession of optometry and to protect the public, not the doctors. The regulatory board will put in
place rules and regulations to implement the statute. It will further define the statute on how the
profession operates and how the Regulatory board also operates.

There should be at least 5-7 members with the majority being Doctors of optometry and 1-2 members
of the public or medical community. Doctor members should be in practice at least 5 years or longer to
qualify for appointment. There needs to be set term (3-4 years) and limit of terms, like 3-4 for example.
The terms of every member should stagger so a maximum of 2 are elected each new term. This
provides continuity of history involving past actions. The qualifications should also include reputation,
being ethical and have leadership skills. Getting appointed to the Board is not done by the national
association as this is conflict of interest and bias. The government usually announces/publishes
openings which the national association should be aware. The association could nominate 3-5 names
for each opening for the public official/department who is making the final appointment.

Hierarchy should be chairman, vice-chairman and secretary. Chairman will set the agenda, runs
meetings and all actions of the board. Chairman also will sign all paperwork for the Board, assign
members to subcommittees and investigation committees. The chairman will also represent the entire
Board at events when the chair is only attending. The Vice-chairman will oversee all responsibilities
when the chairman is absent. The Vice-chairman may be the chairman of subcommittees. The
Secretary handles all minutes and other paperwork not overseen by the chairman. Quorum is required
for all actions to be acknowledged. Minutes are, once approved, public records for transparency.

When it comes to compensation for members of the Board, the funds received for fees, fines and
assessments may be disbursed with appropriate documentation. The salary for meeting days needs to
be set and a per diem plus travel should be the appropriate disbursement.

Rules and regulations should cover definitions in the documentation, application and testing
requirements for licensure, requirements for continued licensure, ethics for the profession and
regulatory board and finally, the complaint, investigative, hearing and board actions. This area is
essential to have the judicial department involved to make sure the rules and due process is followed.
Since the actions taken during meetings can have legal legislative outcomes, it can be recommended to
have an attorney from the state government at all meetings.

Rules and regulations must be put in place by the Board with advice from the legal department. Once
approved by a vote of the Board, they are usually put out for a set time period (30-90 days) for the
public to comment. The comments must be addressed in a meeting and changes can be made if the
Board feels a comment is appropriate. Then the new rules and regulations are sent to the top official in
the department or government for a signature to implement them.

The Board can advocate on behalf of itself for changes to the Optometric Act that they feel is necessary.
Most of these would be administrative and it should stay away from scope expansion. Scope expansion
should be left to the Optometric National Association, they are the true advocacy arm of the profession.
There needs to be a Code of Ethics for the Board, just like there is for the Profession of Optometric. The
number one priority is to protect the public. Each doctor needs to keep current on education, be ethical
in practice and interacting with the public, not to be influenced by outside entities in making decisions
and be fair. open minded on all investigations. On all investigations, all doctors are innocent until
proven guilty. Another code is to be exemplary citizens and professionals with honesty, integrity,
fairness and respectful.

So regulatory boards oversee and update the rules/regulations when the statute is changed. It also
investigates all complaints against doctors following due process using the legal department of
government. Conducts all testing of new licensees and renewal of all licensed doctors examining all
information to make sure all comply with the statute. But the single most critical responsibility for the
Board is protection of the public!