EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY
OF THE STATE OF
Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee
Proposed Amendment to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to Continuing Education Requirements for Optometrists Certified to Use
Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents
December 19, 2006
Issue for Discussion
Should the Regents repeal subdivision (f) of section 66.5 and add a new section 66.6 to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, relating to continuing education requirements for optometrists certified to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents?
Review of Policy.
The proposed amendment is before the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee for discussion in January 2007 and will be submitted for action at the March 2007 Regents meeting.
A Notice of Proposed Rule Making concerning the proposed amendment will be published in the State Register on January 3, 2007. Supporting materials for the proposed amendment are available upon request from the Secretary to the Board of Regents.
A subdivision of section 66.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education was added in 1996, to outline the requirements for continuing education to be completed by licensed optometrists certified to use therapeutic pharmaceutical agents. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to clarify the existing mandatory continuing education requirements and provide more flexibility to the Department for exceptional circumstances that lead to non-compliance. The proposed amendment makes the following major changes:
Under the current regulations, an applicant must complete at least 36 hours of continuing education, however, there is no standard as to what methods of study are acceptable to the Department. This amendment requires at least three-quarters of such continuing education to consist of live in-person instruction and up to one-quarter of such continuing education to consist of instruction through audio, audio-visual, written, on-line, and other media during which the student must be able to communicate and interact with the instructor.
The proposed amendment is also needed to address the Departmentís current lack of ability to adjust the continuing education requirements for exceptional circumstances that lead to non-compliance. This amendment provides the Department with the flexibility to permit an applicant to complete all or part of the continuing education requirement through an acceptable alternative course of study if the applicant documents good cause that prevents compliance with the regular continuing education requirements. However, the applicant will not be able to renew his/her certification until the continuing education requirement is met. This amendment further requires licensed optometrists to certify to the Department that they have complied with the continuing education requirement; or that the applicant has an approved adjustment to such continuing education requirement from the Department.
Under the current regulations, there are no requirements for the approval of program sponsors or courses. The proposed amendment provides that the Department shall deem approved courses approved by the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education or an organization determined by the Department with assistance from the State Board for Optometry to have adequate standards or a course offered by a postsecondary institution authorized to offer programs in optometry leading to licensure. Any course not deemed approved must be reviewed by the Department. For Department review, the sponsor will be required to submit an application for advance approval of the course 14 days prior to the date of commencement of such course. Any course approved by the Department will only be approved for the specified dates that the course is offered.
In order to ensure compliance, the proposed amendment also provides the Department with the authority to conduct site visits of, or request information from a sponsor of an approved course and provides the Department with the discretion to deny or terminate a courseís approved status if it is not meeting the requirements set forth in this section.
Timetable for Implementation
The effective date of the proposed amendment is April 12, 2007.
AMENDMENT TO THE REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION
Pursuant to sections 207, 6507, 7101 and 7101-a of the Education Law.
1. Subdivision (f) of section 66.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is repealed, effective April 12, 2007.
2. Section 66.6 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is added, effective April 12, 2007, as follows:
66.6 Continuing education for licensed optometrists certified to use phase one and/or phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents.
(a) As used in this section, acceptable accrediting agency shall mean an organization accepted by the department as a reliable authority for the purpose of accreditation at the postsecondary level, applying its criteria for granting accreditation in a fair, consistent and nondiscriminatory manner, such as an agency recognized for this purpose by the United States Department of Education.
(b) Mandatory continuing education requirement.
(1) General requirements.
(i) During each triennial registration period, meaning a registration period of three years duration, an applicant for registration shall complete at least 36 hours of formal continuing education acceptable to the department as defined in paragraph (2) of this subdivision. At least three-quarters of such continuing education in a registration period shall consist of live in-person instruction in a formal course of study. Up to one-quarter of such continuing education in a registration period may consist of live instruction in a formal course of study offered through audio, audio-visual, written, on-line, and other media, during which the student must be able to communicate and interact with the instructor.
(ii) Proration. During each registration or certification period of less than three years duration, an applicant shall complete acceptable continuing education, as defined in paragraph (2) of this subdivision, on a prorated basis at the rate of one hour of continuing education per month for such registration or certification period.
(2) Acceptable continuing education. To be acceptable to the department, continuing education shall be:
(i) in the area of ocular disease and pharmacology and may include both didactic and clinical components; and
(ii) approved by the department pursuant to subdivision (g) of this section.
(c) Adjustments to the requirement.
(i) An adjustment to the continuing education requirement, as prescribed in subdivision (b) of this section, may be made by the department, to permit the applicant to complete all or part of the continuing education requirement through equivalent study acceptable to the department provided that the applicant documents good cause that prevents compliance with the regular continuing education requirement, which good cause shall include, but not be limited to, any of the following reasons: poor health certified by a physician; or a specific physical or mental disability certified by an appropriate health care professional; or extended active duty with the armed forces of the United States; or other good cause beyond the applicantís control which in the judgment of the department makes it impossible for the applicant to comply with the continuing education requirement in a timely manner.
(ii) The department may permit an applicant to complete all or a part of the continuing education requirement in the new registration period through an approved adjustment pursuant to this subdivision, provided that the applicant will not obtain a renewal of certification until the continuing education requirement is met. In such a case, the applicant will also have to complete the continuing education requirement for the new registration period.
(d) Renewal of certification. At each re-registration for a renewal of certification, applicants shall certify to the department that they have complied with the continuing education requirement set forth in subdivision (b) of this section or an adjusted requirement approved by the department in accordance with subdivision (c) of this section.
(e) Licensee records.
(1) Each licensee subject to this section shall maintain and ensure access by the department to evidence of completed continuing education including:
(i) the title of the course or program;
(ii) the number of hours completed;
(iii) the sponsor's name and any identifying number;
(iv) attendance or participation verification; and
(v) the date and location of the course.
(2) Retention. Such records shall be retained for at least six years from the date of completion of the course and shall be available for review by the department in the administration of the requirements of this section.
(f) Measurement of continuing education study. Continuing education credit shall be granted only for acceptable continuing education as prescribed in subdivision (b) of this section. For continuing education courses, a minimum of 50 minutes of study shall equal one continuing education hour of credit. For credit-bearing university or college courses, each semester-hour of credit shall equal 15 continuing education hours of credit, and each quarter-hour of credit shall equal 10 continuing education hours of credit.
(g) Continuing education course approval.
(1) To be approved by the department, a continuing education course shall meet the requirements of either paragraph (2) or (3) of this subdivision.
(2) The department shall deem approved a course that is in any one or more of the subjects prescribed for acceptable continuing education in subparagraph (b)(2)(i) of this section and that is either:
(i) approved by the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education or an organization determined by the department with assistance from the State Board for Optometry to have adequate standards for approving sponsors of continuing education for professionals regulated by Title VIII of the Education Law that include, but are not limited to, standards that are equivalent to the standards prescribed in clauses (3)(ii)(a) and (b) of this subdivision; or
(ii) is offered by a postsecondary institution that is authorized to offer programs in optometry leading to licensure that are registered pursuant to Part 52 of this Title or accredited by an acceptable accrediting agency.
(3) Department review of courses.
(i) The department shall conduct a review of courses that are not deemed approved pursuant to the requirements of paragraph (2) of this section.
(ii) A sponsor desiring to obtain approval of a continuing education course based upon a department review under this paragraph shall submit an application for advance approval of the course at least 14 days prior to the date of the commencement of such course that documents that the sponsor:
(a) will offer courses of learning in any one or more of the subjects prescribed for acceptable continuing education in subparagraph (b)(2)(i) of this section;
(b) provides staff who are qualified to teach the courses that will be offered, including, but not limited to, faculty of a college of optometry accredited by an acceptable accrediting agency, or a physician who specializes in diseases of the eye, or by licensed optometrists certified to treat patients with phase two therapeutic pharmaceutical agents, or qualified staff who are authorities in the health sciences specially qualified, in the opinion of the State Board for Optometry, to teach such courses; and
(c) will maintain records for at least six years from the date of completion of course work, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, the name and curriculum vitae of the faculty, a record of attendance of licensed optometrists in the course, an outline of the course, the date and location of the course, and the number of hours for completion of the course. In the event that the sponsor of approved courses discontinues operation, the governing body of such sponsor shall notify the department and transfer all records as directed by the department.
(iii) A course that is approved by the department pursuant to the requirements of this paragraph shall only be approved for specified dates that the course will be offered.
(iv) The department may conduct site visits of, or request information from a sponsor of an approved course to ensure compliance with the requirements of this paragraph, and a sponsor shall cooperate with the department in permitting such a site visit and providing such information.
(v) A determination by the department that a course approved pursuant the requirements of this paragraph is not meeting the standards set forth in this paragraph shall result in the denial or termination of the approved status of the course.