AOA prioritizes optometric education, professional development—how you can help
By expanding learning opportunities and a curriculum of progressive, integrated topics, the AOA is prioritizing the profession’s access to full-scope, contemporary optometric education.
Crowned by Optometry’s Meeting®, June 24-26, in Anaheim, California, and underpinned by two, reimagined learning opportunities—the returning AOA Virtual Learning Livecast and the AOA EyeLearn Professional Development Hub—the AOA’s 2021 continuing education (CE) and professional development enterprise doubles down on value and accessibility to provide doctors, students and paraoptometrics the high-quality, industry-leading education they need and deserve.
“The AOA is committed to modernizing and expanding the formats that our continuing education and professional development take, and by so doing, we’re taking even greater steps toward supporting not only doctors but also their staffs in practicing full-scope, contemporary optometry,” says Ron L. Benner, O.D., AOA trustee and AOA Education Center liaison.
At the direction of the AOA Board of Trustees, the AOA’s comprehensive, modernization efforts of its educational selection were well underway with the relaunch of its member-exclusive learning hub, EyeLearn, early this year and with new CE slated for Optometry’s Meeting 2020; however, the COVID-19 public health emergency forced the AOA to adapt on the spot.
After the unprecedented cancellation of the profession’s premier meeting, the AOA quickly pivoted in support of members’ needs for CE and professional development. Launching the first-ever AOA 2020 Virtual Learning Livecast, over 1,500 registrants accessed three dozen contemporary, integrated courses to satisfy their educational requirements. Although born of necessity, the livecast’s success has demonstrated that modern optometric CE and professional development is at a crossroads.
The AOA hears the profession’s call for not only quality education that reflects the ease and accessibility of the current digital landscape but also education that supports every professional on the optometric care team. While the AOA is poised to deliver these impactful learning opportunities, the doctors’ input as frontline practitioners and medical eye care providers is essential.
“We’re sitting at a paradigm shift when it comes to the educational opportunities offered by the AOA, and the 2021 call for courses is the integral first step in ensuring that AOA can tap into a variety of content, topics and experiences from our diverse membership,” Dr. Benner says. “That accumulation of hard-earned knowledge guarantees that all modes of research, practice and advancement within optometry are offered as resources.”
Answer AOA’s call for courses
The AOA’s 2021 call for courses is not only about delivering the latest CE and professional development for Optometry’s Meeting but also about creating more accessibility to high-quality learning through the AOA’s newest educational avenues—the AOA 2021 Virtual Learning Livecast (date to be announced in 2021) and AOA’s EyeLearn Professional Development Hub.
“Our members already know the high quality of AOA’s educational opportunities—led, first and foremost, by the doctors of optometry and industry leaders who are trusted experts in our field,” Dr. Benner says. “The call for courses signifies AOA’s trust and belief in its members as thought-leaders and critical providers of medical eye care in their communities.”
So, what is the AOA looking for in courses, workshops or other learning opportunities?
- Interprofessional collaboration. Educational courses that promote collaboration for the sake of better understanding and learning, e.g., a doctor of optometry and endocrinologist discussing diabetes and/or thyroid dysfunction.
- Interactive style. Educational courses that utilize different lecture techniques, such as case study, small group rotations, practical demonstrations and problem-based learning.
- Integrative content. Educational courses that reflect cultural and social themes in public health and communication techniques necessary to effectively assist all optometric patients.
- Interdependent learning. Educational courses that promote joint, doctor/paraoptometric learning, e.g., systemic diseases, patient education regarding nutritional choices for hypertensive or diabetic patients, OCT workshops, or billing and coding for diagnostic testing.
- Innovative topics. Educational courses that involve the social determinants of health, the implementation of health information technology or other innovations in optometric patient care.
Additionally, the AOA is placing an emphasis on paraoptometric assistant/technician staff categories that include:
- History taking in EHR.
- Office management.
- Chairside assisting (YAG and SLT).
- Pediatric eye exams.
- Billing and coding (especially ICD changes and procedures).
- Hands-on workshops.
- TBI/low vision.
- Vision therapy tools.
- Corneal topography and specular microscope.
- Fundus photo.
To facilitate planning and evaluation of submissions, all applications must be submitted online by Nov. 1, 2020. Access an FAQ about the call for courses and direct questions about courses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support AOA’s ongoing commitment to delivering compelling, impactful education yearlong by submitting your course ideas, lectures or workshops by Nov. 1, 2020.
The AOA Foundation Recovery Fund will only take applications through Oct. 31 for doctors of optometry unduly affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
COVID-19 lockdowns took their toll on optometry practices, but the AOA’s advocacy and guidance in accessing federal relief measures helped the profession recover over a billion dollars.