“A brave and bizarre new world”

Avoiding a mini meltdown in order to adapt the AOP education programme for the virtual world has been the order of the day, explains Dr Ian Beasley

animated faces

My social media feed appears to have developed an eerie persona of late; littered with pics of optometry friends donned in personal protective equipment as they return en masse to the frontline. Some have gone for quirky optics-themed masks, others have styled it out with a classic floral approach. One in particular has chosen to up the spec to, frankly, a terrifying level. You know who you are.

My ‘first’ trip to the pub served as another example of the brave but bizarre new world we now inhabit. Apprehensively handing over contact details, sanitising hands and traversing an elaborate one-way system – and all done to get my paws on a pint of shandy and a packet of KP dry roasted.

In my role as head of the events team at the AOP, I’ve witnessed meticulous plans for delivery of face-to-face education in 2020 being torn in to ever-smaller shreds

Dr Ian Beasley, OT clinical editor and AOP head of education

It seems like an age since the AOP offices were abruptly closed at the point of lockdown. Admittedly, there were a couple of punch-drunk days as we all scurried to construct workstations in disused corners of home. Nevertheless, almost without pause, the various teams set about ensuring we were able to provide immediate support to members during the coronavirus crisis, including a 20% reduction on fees for UK practising members at the earliest opportunity.

In my role as head of education at the AOP, I’ve witnessed meticulous plans for delivery of face-to-face education in 2020 being torn in to ever-smaller shreds as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded. A mini meltdown by yours truly was averted and instead I and the team have set about adapting the education programme for the virtual world. Our extensive line-up of webinars has been pivotal in delivering important updates, offering CET and a range of CPD sessions to many thousands of members over the past few months.

Since April, the team has delivered 22 webinars to date, ranging from COVID-19 clinical and professional guidance from the AOP, to top tips for locums negotiating contracts. Check out our growing archive of recorded webinars online.

OT has played a key part in supporting members through its CET offering as well is its around-the-clock coverage of the news. In this edition alone we have seven GOC competencies covered for optometrists, including an article on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 and contact lens wear by Jaspreet Sajjan.

It is difficult to look too far ahead with certainty but the AOP stands ready to support our members in the coming weeks and months whatever the future may hold.

What does continue, albeit differently, is the planning process for the flagship event in the AOP’s calendar for 2021, 100% Optical. The news that the FMO and Media 10 have joined forces to support a show that brings the whole sector together each year is positive. As the official partner to the event, and the provider of education, we will be working hard to support and guide the profession in what is a transformed landscape.

Dr Ian Beasley is clinical editor of OT and head of education at the AOP