xxx 1999


The ABC Credential: Keeping Standards High

By David J. Forbes, CPO, FAAOP

The opportunity to address one’s peers in a prestigious publication such as the Almanac is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. I have had many random thoughts about possible topics over the past weeks. This will be the first article I will have authored as a representative of the ABC. Too much pressure!

We are at a juncture in the evolution of the organized field that should not be trivialized. Should I discuss consolidation? How about facility accreditation? Perhaps a discussion about licensure? Who really cares what I have to say?

Then, I was given the opportunity, as a committee chairman, to attend the ABC strategic planning meeting. I was made aware that a team of dedicated professionals has been assembled as the ABC board of directors, committee chairman, and ABC staff that will lead our profession into the new millennium.

I had not been aware of the level of commitment of this board and staff. I decided at that point to make you aware of how your elected representatives are protecting and promoting your ABC credential.

Outcomes survey
We all know that prosthetic/orthotic treatment by a trained and credentialed professional will lead to a better outcome. ABC hopes to move forward with a study and survey, initiated by the National Office, of outcomes that will help to document our treatment protocols and results.

This survey will show case managers and payers that you get the results you pay for and that the lowest fee does not always give the best result. The ABC-certified practitioner has the highest standard to uphold and provides the quality, effective care that helps to maintain the overall cost of rehabilitation.

Facility accreditation
The Facility Accreditation Program is now into the first cycle of reaccreditation. The standards that we maintain with this program put all of our facilities another notch higher than many who claim to be our equals.

These standards help us to show the level of our commitment to quality care and demonstrate our goal to provide more than just a product. We strive to show that our service is effective, and we continue to make improvements that will enable our clients to reach their maximum potential.

The ABC staff has put in great effort to make this program as efficient as possible. Their efforts are what make this program a success.

Continuing education
The Continuing Education Program is being evaluated constantly to keep up with the demands of the times, yet still ensure that the credit given by ABC is for high-quality programming by experts in their disciplines.

Sometimes, it is not possible to make everyone happy with a decision concerning the quality of the program offered. ABC is, however, an organization based on standards, and it is the only organization in a position to protect those standards. Decisions about programming credit are not taken lightly, otherwise the credits may become meaningless.

Practitioner exams
The practitioner examination format is constantly undergoing transformation. Many who passed the exam in the "dark ages" as I did would not recognize it now. Every effort is made to be impartial yet thorough. And, questions need to be updated regularly to keep up with current technology.

The never-ending cycle of examinations and examiners is a formidable task handled efficiently once again by the professional staff at ABC.

Continuing quality
Two new items have been added to the ABC agenda. As more states pass licensure legislation based on ABC standards, examinations have to be given by ABC that follow the ABC standards but are modified for existing legislative nuances. This expands ABC’s role, but maintains its stature as the pre-eminent testing organization in orthotics and prosthetics.

An extremely thorough report was given regarding the marketing efforts ABC initiated two years ago. The program has gotten much bigger than I had ever anticipated, and the marketing director is doing many things to get the ABC credential recognized as the standard of care in orthotics and prosthetics. This program will certainly be an asset to our recognition as the most qualified and best-educated professionals in O&P.

The team that I saw at ABC is the team that you can depend on to make the tough decisions about the future of the ABC-credentialed practitioner. I know that our credential will be protected and our standards will remain high, and I thank those who have contributed to this effort.

David J. Forbes, CPO, FAAOP, is with Empire Orthopedic Labs, a division of Rochester Orthopedics Labs, Inc., in Yorkville, N.Y. He is currently the chairman of ABC’s Professional Discipline Committee.