What is NBEO Part 3?

ICO 4th years taking the Part III for NBEO at the National Center of Clinical Testing in Optometry

Fall quarter is stressful. Why? Maybe it is just me, but this quarter has been busy. My exam schedule goes as follows:

September 26: NBEO Part 3
November 2: Canadian Boards Part 1
December 7: NBEO Part 2.

Much to my surprise, I started studying for Canadian Part 1/NBEO part 2 the second week of Fall quarter. I have already finished KMK and am now concentrating on topics more specific to Canadian boards (check for a future blog on the differences and how to prepare!) However, studying from a book took a back seat when it was time for Part 3.

First, what is NBEO Part 3? Part 3 is the practical portion of American Boards. You can take it any time during your fourth year, I believe, starting in August. It consists of a complete exam split into 4 stations, each a half hour long. I included a break down in case you are interested.

  • Station 1, the Entrance tests: Case history, Patient education, EOM, Saccades, Near cover test, NPC, Pupils, Blood pressure and Lensometry.
  • Station 2, Everything that touches the eye: Slit lamp, Tonometry, Gonioscopy, Punctal plugs, Soft contact lenses and RGP lenses.
  • Station 3, Refraction and near work: Retinoscopy, Manifest, Binocular refraction, Von Grafe, Risley Prism, FCC and NRA/PRA.
  • Station 4, Everything in the Back: 78/90, BIO, and Injections (intravenous and intramuscular)

Most people wait until their clinical rotation at school to have all the equipment and friends required to practice. Also, most externships don’t have fake arms laying around to practice injections on! I am in Detroit this quarter and don’t go back to Chicago until the spring. To be honest, I did not want to wait until the very end to take the test. I have gone back to Chicago twice to practice injections. The other skills are not difficult to do (we do most every single day, multiple times a day,) but there is a certain kind of script you want to practice. Usually, when you have a real patient, you aren’t saying every measurement and note aloud. So, in between patients at work, I read over the “rubric” and practiced with other students.

While students can take NBEO Part 1 and 2 “anywhere,” NBEO part 3 can only be taken at its location in Charlotte, North Carolina. ICO gives us three days to take the exam. The first is for traveling there, the second is for test day, and the third is for traveling home. I took it on a Tuesday afternoon.

Look out for a blog on what to do if/when you travel to Charlotte for Part 3!

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