How team learning improves doctor, staff coordination

September 22, 2021
The AOA 2021 Virtual Learning Livecast, Oct. 1-2, offers over a dozen courses specifically geared toward integrated, doctor-paraoptometric education. But registration closes Monday, Sept. 27.
AOA Virtual Learning Livecast

‘Health care is a team sport,’ so the saying goes, synergistically leveraging individual professionals’ skills in a way that works toward the overall end-goal: good patient outcomes. So then, why not learn as a care team?

Integrated, doctor-paraoptometric continuing education (CE) and professional development provides a mutual understanding of everyone’s roles in the care continuum and is advantageous to setting—and meeting—expectations for the delivery of care in the optometry practice. That’s why the AOA 2021 Virtual Learning Livecast, Oct. 1-2, offers 14 integrated courses, scheduled after typical business hours, so optometric care teams can engage in the kind of team-learning experience that fosters cohesive, coordinated care.

A two-day, online learning event, the Virtual Learning Livecast provides doctors, paraoptometrics and optometry students a convenient way to earn up to 12 credit hours (AOA, COPE and CPC credit) in contemporary, optometric education. With a total of 32 expert-led courses, the Virtual Learning Livecast delivers a slate of integrated courses on topics ranging from billing and coding and practice management pearls to pediatric care and effective patient communication.

“Integrated courses encourage the teamwork approach, providing information and education necessary to both the paraoptometric and the doctor in order to effectively coordinate a comprehensive plan of patient care,” notes Erlinda Rodriguez, CPO, AOA Education Center Committee member.

Paraoptometrics are essential for the effective delivery of care by not only carrying out crucial office tasks, such as front desk operations, patient management and pre-tests, but also supporting doctors in providing comprehensive and specialized eye health care. Those essential functions aren’t lost on AOA Trustee Jacquie Bowen, O.D., who recognized the significant opportunity to double-down on her staff’s proficiencies with the sudden, necessary pivot to virtual learning in 2020.

“The excellent virtual learning platforms that emerged due to the pandemic have definitely been a ‘COVID silver lining’ for our practice,” Dr. Bowen says. “For a long time, my partner and I have recognized the value in learning as a group but it’s cost-prohibitive to fly our entire 20-plus paraoptometric staff members to a conference.”

So, Dr. Bowen and her partner registered the entire care team for the 2020 Virtual Learning Livecast, and divided the team into different education tracks. Their office learning event was complete with post-session discussions, quizzes—yes, even snacks—and allowed the team to set goals for the implementation of new ideas. Additionally, it provided Dr. Bowen the opportunity to evaluate staff skills and reassign positions based on particular interests or proficiencies.

“Doing this immediately is so much more effective than waiting to get back to the office after a trip and trying to recapture the moment,” Dr. Bowen notes. “The value of learning as a group is significant, and the opportunity to have a discussion following the lecture makes for a comfortable, safe place to ask all kinds of questions.”

Paraoptometric education is a central part of the AOA’s commitment to year-round education, headlined by the annual Optometry’s Meeting ® and supported by online learning, such as the Virtual Learning Livecast or AOA’s EyeLearn Professional Development Hub. This education provides tangible value to AOA-member doctors seeking staff training and skills-building opportunities that develop their paraoptometrics in all areas of the optometry practice, notes the AOA Focus feature, “Rethinking, Reimagining, Redoing How Optometry Learns,” in the May/June 2021 issue.

“Right now is a prime opportunity to have year-long education and really start to view education as something that isn’t confined to a lecture hall,” notes George Veliky, O.D., AOA Education Center Committee co-chair, in the AOA Focus article. “That’s almost an outdated way of thinking about it since there are so many ways to learn now, and we want to offer those alternate avenues of learning and education to our members beyond simply sitting in a classroom.”

Adds Dr. Veliky: “I can only see so many patients by myself [so] paraoptometrics being educated, at least to the basics of understanding of what’s happening, that’s going to make staff more efficient and the doctor that much more productive.”

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