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Ophthalmic Medical Technology
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Ophthalmic Medical Technology

Your eyes. Most everything you have ever learned, came to you through your eyes. Like many of us, you probably take your vision for granted; most people see clearly without thinking about it. Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, poor vision is a daily way of life.

Who is responsible for keeping you in sight? There are three trained professionals, known as the three 'O's of eyecare: the Ophthalmologist (M.D.), is a medical doctor specialty trained in diseases and surgery of the eyes, and uses medications, lasers, and surgery to correct vision. The Optometrist (O.D.), is a doctor who can examine, diagnose, and treat disorders of vision, including the fitting of eyeglasses and contacts. The Optician is trained to grind corrective lenses, fabricate, and dispense eyewear to correct deficiencies in vision including nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

These professionals cannot evaluate and treat patients without highly trained medical assistants and technicians. The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, certifies three levels of ophthalmic medical technicians, the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA®), the Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT®) and the Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (COMT®), with further training, these certified technicians can also become certified as an Ophthalmic Surgical Assistant who works with the M.D. Ophthalmologist in the operating room.

A career in vision is one of the most satisfying and rewarding you could choose. The patients are happy, they get better, the hours are reasonable and the pay is great. Sure, there is a lot to learn. But the study of vision is an amazing and exciting endeavor that will keep you stimulated, fascinated, and engaged for life. How do you enter the field? Palm Beach State College is one of a select group of higher educational institutions to offer the Associate in Science Degree in Ophthalmic Medical Technology. This limited access program requires a separate application, which you can download from this site. Read the requirements for admission and start on your road to success.

Ophthalmology derives its name from the Greek "ophthalmos," meaning, "the science of eyes." It is the field of medicine that specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of eye disease. The Ophthalmic Medical Technologist assists the M. D. Ophthalmologist, eye physician and surgeon, in the evaluation of vision and treatment of patients with disorders of the eyes.

Palm Beach State College is one of a limited number of institutions that offers an Associate of Science degree in Ophthalmic Medical Technology. The program's 24 month, college-level, competency-based curriculum, consists of classroom experience combined with hands-on specialized training. Students develop technical proficiency through extensive clinical internships under the supervision of a Board-Certified and licensed M. D. Ophthalmologist, including training in our own state-of-the-art medical clinic, combined with practical experience in local ophthalmic practices, clinics, and hospitals.

Duties of an OMT

Certified Ophthalmic Technologists (COAs, COTs, and COMTs) work closely with an M.D. Ophthalmologist in a medical practice. They apply their knowledge of the evaluation of the ophthalmic patient with medical and surgical eye disorders by using their medical skills and high technology, specialized, diagnostic visual testing instrumentation.

The duties of a COA include taking a patient's history, measuring visual acuity, assessing optical correction, testing pupils, ocular motility, inspection and assessment of the associated ocular tissues, external ocular examination, and recording intraocular pressure.

The information obtained by the COT is used and relied upon by the M.D. Ophthalmologist to detect, evaluate, diagnose, and treat disease or injury.  In addition, the COT is a versatile and valuable member of the medical team by assisting other medical personnel in patient scheduling, performing administrative duties, and instructing and educating patients and their families. The further training of the COT allows for measurement of refractive error, recording the eyeglass prescription, the fitting and evaluation of contact lenses, and assisting in minor office-based ocular procedures, which also includes the supervision and training of other ophthalmic technicians.

COMTs are further trained to assist the surgeon in the ambulatory or hospital-based operating room, and perform medical and surgical diagnostic and therapeutic procedures under the direction of the surgeon. This is a profession that requires a highly ethical, dedicated, and dependable personality, with a mature and caring nature. The applicant should work well with others, be comfortable with other health care providers and office personnel, be impeccably honest, be flexible, possess excellent communication skills, and be a superior listener.

Thinking of becoming a nurse?

  • Registered nurses (RNs) constitute the largest healthcare occupation, with more than 2.6 million jobs.
  • About 60 percent of RN jobs are in hospitals.
  • Nursing schools are overwhelmed with applications.
  • In most nursing schools, less than 1 out of 10 applicants are accepted

What if you decide on a career in nursing and don't get accepted or you get accepted into a nursing program only to discover that in-patient nursing is not for you? Consider applying to the OMT program and then apply to become a nurse. Your course credits and degree are transferable to other colleges and universities. If you graduate as a COT with an A.S. degree, you are already well on your way to becoming an Ophthalmic Operating Room Nurse (ORN), Ophthalmic Nurse Anesthetist, or Ophthalmic Surgical Assistant. Your specialty training in Ophthalmology is in great demand in outpatient surgery centers, hospitals, and private practices nationwide (Visit the website of the American Society of Ophthalmic Operating Room Nurses ASORN).

A career in Ophthalmic Medical Technology puts you in the forefront of patient care and education. As a respected member of the healthcare team, you work closely with doctors to provide high quality healthcare. After completing the OMT program you can also consider continuing on with your education at Palm Beach State College and obtain a Bachelor in Applied Science in Supervision and Management. This degree builds upon the knowledge, skills and experience that apply to managerial-level positions in health administration.

As a profession, OMT's career development program can also lead to additional certification by JCAHPO as a surgical and keratorefractive technician, ophthalmic photographer, ophthalmic ultrasonographer, registered perioperative and surgical nurse, or certified orthoptist. Additional opportunities for OMTs are always on the rise as demand for highly trained healthcare specialists continues to grow.

Visit the Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology ATPO site.

Visit the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology site.

Visit the Technician Continuing Education site.

Of course, no guarantee of employment or a salary level can be assumed just by receiving an education in any area, but within the medical field of ophthalmology, job opportunities are excellent! Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties have the highest concentration of healthcare employers in the state (U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 2009).

According to the Florida Society of Ophthalmology there are 1,400 ophthalmologists in Florida. Employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 22 percent from 2008 to 2018. Along with that growth, coupled with the increase in the aging of the population, the demand for COT personnel is expected to increase sharply. The certified technologist can expect to enter the job market at approximately $45,000-$55,000 annually, with increases based on experience and specialization up to $87,000 or more, according to the 2009 ATPO National Salary and Benefits Report.

The illustrations here are for informational purposes only and may not accurately reflect market conditions for jobs or salary levels at any given time.

If you are interested in applying to the A.S. Degree Program in Ophthalmic Medical Technology at Palm Beach State College Garden's Campus, you must first apply to the college. Application Forms are available online (College Application).

Once you fill out and apply to the college (you may skip this step if you are currently enrolled), you will need to fill out the separate application to the OMT Program.

To speak with a College advisor or set up an appointment, visit the Advising home page or call (561)207-5340.

*DO NOT drop off or mail your application to the OMT department. ALL applications must go through the College Admissions office after payment of the appropriate fee to the College Cashier.


Mission of the OMT Program

To provide competent, ethical, and confident OMT graduates with practice-ready medical and surgical skills required by an ophthalmic practice, and who have a proven commitment to their patient’s eye care and their own professional development.


Interested?

Come visit the program. Ophthalmic Medical Technology students benefit from a newly constructed, totally dedicated, ophthalmic educational center, complete with high technology and fully digital imaging and viewing classroom, instrument and training laboratory, fully functional state-of-the-art ophthalmic examination room, and a special procedures and testing facility equipped with the latest in ophthalmic diagnostic and testing instrumentation. We hold monthly information sessions in the Ophthalmic Medical Technology Learning Center on the Gardens campus in Palm Beach Gardens. (Attend an information session) You can even spend part of your day in an ophthalmology practice to see first hand what it is like to be an Ophthalmic Technician. Then decide for yourself.

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The Ophthalmic Medical Technology Associate in Science degree program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Ophthalmic Medical Programs, 2025 Woodlane Drive, St. Paul, MN 55125, (651) 731-7245, www.coa-omp.org.

The Ophthalmic Medical Technology program is a member of the Consortium of Ophthalmic Training Programs (COTP) and the Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology (ATPO). Palm Beach State College is an approved education provider through the Florida Department of Health Division of Medical Quality Assurance and is an equal access/equal opportunity institution.

kershner

Robert M. Kershner, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.S.
Department Chairman and Professor


Office & Contact Info

Location
BioScience Technology Complex
Palm Beach Gardens campus
3160 PGA Blvd. Suite SC152
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410-2893

Inquiries
Phone: (561) 207-5726 or email: OMT@PalmBeachState.edu

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