Shaping our future

With big projects coming up in 2018, the AOP will be asking members for their views to shape the Association’s next steps, Henrietta Alderman explains

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Recent research into myopia control, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment and involvement in minor eye conditions service (MECS), to name just three, illustrate how all areas of care – prevention, diagnosis and treatment – could be revolutionised over the next few years.

These are exciting changes. Although it can be daunting to keep track of them, it is crucial to keep up for both professional and commercial reasons. AOP members have a significant aid to remaining current in OT and its coverage of the latest research and innovations. Our CET covers most aspects of clinical care and guarantees the latest information. Attendees at our CET events, including Therapeutics London and Therapeutics Manchester, are essential diary dates for clinically-focused professionals.

Ability to adapt

The General Optical Council (GOC) has been grappling with the question of how undergraduate education in optics may need to change in response to the many innovations in the field – innovations that have themselves often come about as a result of academic research. The GOC is asking how education can help students become not only good practitioners when they graduate, but will also be equipped with the knowledge and ability to adapt to all the clinical changes that they will face in the course of their careers. The AOP will be responding to the GOC consultation, which closes on 16 March, and members still have time to comment on the AOP forum or directly to the AOP team. 

"Our workforce survey will be with you in April, and we would like to know what will influence your decisions as you plan for your professional future"

One of the AOP’s roles is to promote the profession and represent to Government the pressures and problems that our members experience, as well as the enormous benefit that optics provides to the UK economy. We are hampered somewhat in this by the lack of hard data on some of the issues we all understand: the true cost of providing the sight test, the number of potentially sight-saving referrals to hospital eye services, the benefits to the economy of early identification of disease, and the vulnerability of practices in deprived areas. The AOP is starting to undertake research to fill those gaps in the data, with a view to making the case for the profession – and sector – even stronger in the future.    

Our workforce survey will be with you in April, and we would like to know what will influence your decisions as you plan for your professional future. We expect the results will help employers to understand and address the recruitment problems that are top of their agenda.

The AOP, as a membership organisation, also needs to innovate and keep pace with the changing needs and expectations of our members. For example, we have invested considerably in technology and digital communications over the last few years, aiming to provide an individual, targeted service for members. But to continue to understand our members’ needs we need to carry out research. 

Please do make sure that your voice is heard when our surveys land in your inbox. We all get survey fatigue, but do take the time to complete them – we want to hear from everyone.