Fellows of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) may soon be required to maintain competency of that title in order to keep it. Currently, once Fellowship in the AAO is achieved, it is held for life. But a new amendment to the AAO’s bylaws will change that.

“It is the intention of the [Academy] Board [of Directors] that this will be voluntary for all Fellows who earned their F.A.A.O. designation prior to 2010 and will become mandatory for all those earning Fellowship in 2010 and after,” wrote AAO President Mark W. Eger, O.D., in an October 3 memo to all AAO members.

The AAO has considered maintenance of Fellowship for years, Dr. Eger writes. But, the issue came to the fore recently when optometrists from Ontario, Canada, received notice from their licensure board that they would no longer be able to use the F.A.A.O. designation. The Academy was able to convince the Ontario board to suspend the ruling, but the question behind it still remained.

“With so much attention in the past two years in the United States devoted to the issue of maintenance of competence, Maintenance of Fellowship has taken on new importance for your Board of Directors,” Dr. Eger writes. “Since all of our Diplomate programs require periodic renewal, it is the Board of Directors’ belief that requiring the same for Fellowship is reasonable and will add even more credibility to the designation of F.A.A.O. both within and outside of the profession.”

The issue will be discussed at the Academy’s business meeting during the annual AAO meeting held in Orlando in November. “This will be a good opportunity to express your opinion as you will have ample opportunity to learn the details of the program,” Dr. Eger says.