What does education mean to you?

Is qualification the start of your education journey, and what does further learning mean to you?


Having recently spent a year outside of the industry, when I returned to my desk in April and began speaking to people from across the profession, it quickly became clear that many things had changed.

Colleagues would refer to new practice protocols and I would find myself quickly browsing through articles on our website to get up to speed, while practitioners I interviewed would use acronyms that didn’t exist 15 months ago, and I would find myself asking them to explain further.

Myopia and its management was a topic that was ‘out there’ and being discussed before I went on leave, but it now feels much more in the forefront of the profession’s mind, with many more suppliers entering the market and highlighting its impact for patients and in practice. As a result, it is a topic that OT is keen to help readers keep up to date on; in the last week we have reported on a Hoya myopia management webinar, and shared insight from CooperVision president, Daniel McBride, on the topic. 

A change that nearly everyone who I have interviewed recently has referenced is remote consultations – how they have introduced them in practice and how patients have responded to them. Many have also spoken about how, after their initial reservations, they embraced the service.

In concept, the discussion of remote consultations is not a new one, but in action it is, and it is a change that seems to have occurred at pace.  

Of course, COVID-19 can rightly be labelled as responsible for some of these changes, and the profession might still only be talking about remote consultations rather than offering them, for example, if the pandemic hadn’t forced its hand and required action.

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of the skillset held by independent prescriber (IP) optometrists, with this cohort able to provide a range of care outside of the hospital setting. And for some, the pandemic may have encouraged them to embark on this qualification.

A poll conducted by OT last month found that of more than 250 responders, 39% would consider IP in the future, while 43% were currently undergoing training.

While working on the In practice section for OT’s August/September edition, I have had the opportunity to interview three of the first cohort of optometrists to become independent prescribers. As early adopters, they were among a class of 33 to qualify in 2009. Each of them shared stories with me of patients they had seen during the pandemic who would have otherwise had to move into the hospital setting and explained what made them embark on their IP journey initially.

For optometrist Susan Bowers, it was the next logical step for her in a career that has focused on expanding the role of optometry.

Following her IP qualification, Bowers studied for her glaucoma certificates and diploma, and consequently spent much of the pandemic seeing glaucoma patients who could not be managed in the hospital eye service.

“Education is the most important thing,” she shared, “I don’t think that you should stand still.”

As we approach the final stages of the current enhanced CET cycle, many of you will begin to check your points tally, as well as totting-up what competencies you may still have outstanding.

Do keep an eye on OT’s online CET offering in the coming months as in September we will be launching something special to help support you in reaching your requirements.

In the meantime, OT would like to hear about how you approach CET: Are you a practitioner who has far surpassed the 36 point requirement and are still feeding your thirst? Or do you work through the requirements, attracted to CET by the points or competencies available? Get in touch and share why you like completing CET and its importance to you, and let us know how many points you have collected by emailing me.