There are two different ways to enter the field
1. On-the-Job Training
Most ophthalmic practices provide on-the-job training for entry-level Allied Ophthalmic Personnel with no previous experience or training in the field. Senior level Allied Ophthalmic Personnel often supervise and train new employees. The training includes both on-the-job work and homework in the form of independent study courses.
Plus…Independent Study Course
The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, Inc. (JCAHPO®) and The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), offer independent study courses to make it convenient for those individuals who cannot attend, or prefer not to attend, an accredited ophthalmic training program. These independent study courses are designed to allow individuals to learn and train in the convenience of their own home, on their own time.
2. Accredited Ophthalmic Training Program
Many academic institutions offer accredited ophthalmic training programs for entry into the field. These programs allow students to learn professional standards, and often have the opportunity to practice their skills in a clinical setting on state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment. Educational institutions also offer job placement programs to assist graduates in finding employment upon completion of their academic program. To find an accredited ophthalmic training program, visit www.coa-omp.org.
Prepare for School
As a high school student ready to graduate, or if you are done with high school and not sure what to do next, becoming an Allied Ophthalmic Personnel could be the career for you.
If you are thinking about becoming an AOP, there are a number of things you can do to prepare yourself for your upcoming education and training. First, talk to a high school guidance counselor. He or she can point you in the direction of appropriate schools and help determine if a career as an AOP is right for you.
You should also begin searching for the right school; look through all the accredited ophthalmic training programs at www.coa-omp.org to find one that would best fit your needs. Contact the school and program and ask questions about the length of program, how to apply, and when you can get started. It is always a good idea to take a tour of the school and program to get a feel for this exciting new step.
If you really want an immersive experience as you prepare for a challenging ophthalmic training program, you can volunteer at a local hospital or ophthalmic clinic to gain some first aid and healthcare experience. Or contact your ophthalmologist and ask if you could shadow an AOP for a day.