The first-of-its-kind AOA 2020 Virtual Learning Livecast, June 24-27, offered more than 60 live courses specifically for doctors of optometry, paraoptometric professionals and optometry students.
More than 1,500 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometrics registered for the first-ever AOA 2020 Virtual Learning Livecast, a reinvention of AOA's premier event organized after Optometry's Meeting® was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In all, 62 live, virtual courses were offered June 24-27.
"We are very happy with the attendance," says Ronald L. Benner, O.D., AOA trustee and liaison to the AOA Education Center. "The pandemic has created many changes and challenges including how doctors could get their continuing education. There have been many other opportunities over the past two months for online courses, but the AOA Virtual Learning Livecast was a unique platform for both doctors and staff to participate in.
"Our numbers were very strong—especially for an event that had to be completely reinvented very quickly," Dr. Benner adds. "We are excited to learn from this unexpected opportunity and hope to build on this concept for the future."
Check, check and check
Organizers of the Virtual Learning Livecast had various goals for the event, including:
- Providing members with high-quality, industry-leading continuing education and professional development they need. Courses ranged from clinical and practice management skills to emerging areas of optometric care, such as advanced surgical procedures, artificial intelligence and tele-optometry, plus an e-poster session.
- Integrating education in order to promote practice efficiencies. The AOA recognizes how integral paraoptometric staff are to the day-to-day operations of optometry practices, which is why in addition to paraoptometric-specific courses offered, 12 hours of doctor-staff education was provided. Courses included clinical, diagnostic and practice management topics, such as billing and coding, infection control, customer service and artificial intelligence. They could earn up to 24 hours of CPC credits; some courses have ABO/NCLE approval.
- Bolstering the medical side of optometric practices. Comprehensive eye examinations can discover the ocular manifestations of 276 systemic diseases, positioning doctors of optometry as a critical entry point into the health care system for many Americans. The Livecast offered a systemic disease track with nine courses devoted to the ocular manifestations and clinical considerations of systemic diseases, including life-threatening signs and symptoms, autoimmune diseases and diabetes, plus advanced surgical skills and techniques.
According to a post-event survey, 96.7% of respondents were either very satisfied or satisfied by the quality of education.
It took a small village of volunteers and AOA staff to pull off the event in a short time frame. Planning and reimagining began in March, after various groups nationwide began announcing they were cancelling their in-person events.
"We're all very pleased with the result—with the work that went into it and the product that was put forth—benefitting members with online education, which is necessary in this day and age," says George Veliky, O.D. co-chair of the AOA Education Center Committee.
Making optometric practices better
Asked what may have attracted so many to the event, Dr. Benner cites the quality of the courses and their clinical relevance. Relevant courses, such as a two-part course on infection control protocols, were presented.
Dr. Veliky agrees, noting that doctors of optometry also recognize that having a well-trained, knowledgeable staff is an asset to a practice. Practices stand to grow tremendously, if the staff they're employing are making the shift to contemporary optometry, he says.
As for takeaways from the event, Dr. Veliky says attendees walked away with tips that they can put to good use in their practices. The profession demands doctors stay current on care and make themselves better providers for their patients, he says. The Livecast provided just that opportunity.
"I hope that any doctor who sat in on any course took away one, two or three clinical pearls they could put into practice today," Dr. Veliky says.
Education on demand
The event may be over, but the learning doesn't have to stop. EyeLearn Professional Development Hub, the AOA's member-exclusive centralized education portal, offers an expanding online catalog of educational modules, webinars and resources to help advance clinical proficiencies and practice management expertise for doctors, students and paraoptometric staff—whenever and wherever they're ready to learn. Some livecast courses will be available on EyeLearn in the coming weeks. Find the latest education exclusively available for AOA members.
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