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Ophthalmic Assistant Program

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Hello everyone! Z0SrEHj.gif Because I respect all your opinions I would like some feedback on this.


I have been researching for some HCE that is fairly quick, inexpensive, and unusual. I have been trying to find something other than CNAs, LVNs or even Paramedics. Something different - then I came across this and would like to hear from all of you. Do you all think it would be a good plan B as well?


Our Ophthalmic Assistant program is a full time training technical school with a 6 month duration designed to give our students the extensive knowledge and experience needed to prepare them to excel in the ever changing field of Ophthalmology. Our fully functioning exam room set up and state of the art diagnostic testing areas allow our students to practice their new skills on the same equipment they would be using in the office on patients. Students will graduate the program with a certificate of completion and the understanding and knowledge required to sit for the JCAHPO Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Exam (COA), the certifying body of allied health professionals in ophthalmology.

And it doesn’t stop there! Continue on with advanced certifications like Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) or Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technician (COMT), with your COA as a launching pad for expanding your career!

Classes take place Monday-Friday for 3 months followed by 3 months of split class room and clinic rotation. This allows for maximum exposure and hands on experience before you even step foot in an office as an employee.


At half the cost and a quarter of the time of a traditional Associate’s degree program, HEA’s OA program allows you to enter the workplace sooner and with more experience than many other applicants. Cost for enrollment is $1250 and includes all textbooks and materials.



What is an Ophthalmic Assistant?
An ophthalmic assistant, or OA, is a person who works with an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) to provide patient care by performing many different eye-related clinical functions. Ophthalmic assistants help ophthalmologists care for patients by taking histories, performing various procedures and tests, and preparing patients to see the doctor. Their work provides the ophthalmologist with important information to help diagnose and treat patients.
A typical day in the life of an ophthalmic assistant might include these tasks:
Taking patient medical histories
Instructing patients about medications, tests, and procedures
Performing various vision and diagnostic tests
Assisting ophthalmologists with patient procedures
Coordinating patient scheduling
Supervising and training other ophthalmic assistants


Ophthalmic assistants enjoy virtually unlimited job opportunities nationwide and internationally because of their specialized skills. Ophthalmic assistants also have many opportunities for career advancement. Most of today's ophthalmic assistants began as entry-level personnel and worked their way up to management positions through continuing education, training, and certification.

Salary Expectations of an Ophthalmic Assistant
According to a 2011 salary survey by the Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology, the average salary for certified ophthalmic medical assistant respondents to the survey was about $43K per year nationally. Of course experience and geographic location play a role, but trained OAs are in high demand all across the country in a variety of office and hospital settings. As cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 13% rate of employment growth is predicted within the Ophthalmic Assistant field between 2010 and 2020.

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I would recommend looking around on craigslist or other local job listing sites to see how many positions are available for this type of occupation. It would be no fun to go through the process and find that you can't get a job in this field. Since it is much more specialized than LVN, EMT, CNA positions and the pay is decent for a 6-month program I am guessing it is pretty competitive and employers have the option of being picky and wanting people with previous experience. Sounds really interesting though!

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I just saw online that the program mentions people who graduate from their program will receive tuition reimbursement of 50% on their 1 year anniversary, with the remainder being paid on their 2 year anniversary. Interesting I would say, wouldn't you?


Aivi: I also looked at Craigslist as you mentioned (I did not look elsewhere yet) and it is interesting to note that there are only 6 positions listed as of Jan 6th til now.

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in general experience limited to one body part is not ideal. I tell dental assistants and podiatry assistants, etc the same thing.

OK then let's just say I would do ophthalmic AND volunteer X number of hrs, would that be suffice for PA schools? Or better yet I assist in ophthalmic surgery? I did mentioned that to the program director I would be interested in doing that. Her response was just remind her of that when the program gets started.

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As I understand it, HCE is about what you actually did as part of your job, not what your training encompassed.  That being said, the two big questions I have are:

  • How likely are you to find a job?
  • How much of this job will be clerical?

CNA isn't glamorous work, but it's usually easy to be employed, doing 100% patient care.  Consider it.  Really.  If what you want is quick, inexpensive, and quality HCE, why waste your time on less than a sure thing? 


Edited for spelling.

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  • 9 months later...

I couldn't agree more with the comment above. My first job out of college was with an ophthalmologist who posted an ad on craigslist. He wanted someone he could train to see patient's his way. On the job training is very common for ophthalmic assistants and technicians. After one year's work, you are eligible to take the certifying exam. Like being a PA, it is all depends on your supervising physician. Find a good one and you could be getting paid while getting precious HCE.

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