It begins Jan. 23.

Beginning Jan. 23, Texas A&M University-Texarkana, in conjunction with Texarkana Eye Associates, will offer a 15-week ophthalmic assistant/optician training course that will prepare students to perform ophthalmic procedures in the office of an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

“A few months ago, Dr. Elvin Fenton with Texarkana Eye Associates approached A&M-Texarkana President Dr. Emily Cutrer about the shortage of highly trained eye care associates in the region,” said Shelley Caraway, executive director of Extended Education and Community Development. “Currently, the closest training for those who want to work in an optical dispensary is in Tyler and takes a year to complete.”

Caraway and Texarkana Eye Associates’ Dr. Nick McColley worked together to develop the course, which will consist of 60 hours of classroom and 20 hours of lab training completed at a Texarkana Eye Associates facility. Class will meet two nights per week from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the A&M-Texarkana campus from Jan. 23 to May 10.

Those who successfully complete the course will be eligible to take the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) exam, confirming an assistant’s knowledge in 19 key areas.

“The speed at which the training course came together would not have been possible without this collaboration between Texarkana Eye Associates and the university,” Caraway said. “It’s a win-win workforce development solution for all.”

The cost of the course and materials is $2,025.

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