Despite the increasing volume of online CPD and short courses available to optometrists across the board, the Australian College of Optometry (ACO) has reported “more requests than ever about the availability of practical learning”.
The ACO believes this high level of demand has been driven but its reputation for excellent, expert-led certificate courses which offer practitioners the opportunity to deepen their expertise in a range of areas. As 2024 approaches, the ACO Education team is preparing for high demand across its popular suite of five online courses, which support remote learning.
… it’s not always clinical placements with optometrists; we have seen many candidates complete their placements with ophthalmologists
Irreplaceable Hands-on Experience
The ACO offers four clinical-focused certificate courses (Children’s Vision, Glaucoma, Advanced Contact Lenses and Ocular Therapeutics), each with a clinical placement to support the expert-led curriculum.
“We’ve found that as more optometrists are looking to upskill in the areas of children’s vision, glaucoma co-management and advanced contact lenses, they are paying particular attention to the level of their practical skills. The opportunity to gain that hands-on experience as part of an ACO certificate is simply irreplaceable,” observed Shazia Tahseen, ACO Education Manager.
“In fact, it’s not always clinical placements with optometrists; we have seen many candidates complete their placements with ophthalmologists. This provides a unique opportunity to learn from and make connections with their local specialist.”
Recognising that his “limited” practical knowledge of glaucoma, optometrist Kevin Sun enrolled in the ACO’s Advanced Certificate in Glaucoma.
“I have always had an interest in glaucoma, and after a few months of practice I realised if I wanted to co-manage with my local ophthalmologist, I would need to further my skills. The ACO’s Advanced Certificate in Glaucoma was the obvious answer as it involved clinical placements with ophthalmologists.
“The opportunity to do placement helped foster strong relationships with my local ophthalmologists. This has led to more glaucoma patients coming through the practice and better communication and support from the ophthalmologists, which has improved my ability to diagnose and manage glaucoma,” he explained.
Upskilling Following Relocation
After relocating to Australia from South Africa, Johanette Fraser decided to pursue therapeutic endorsement with the ACO’s Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics and graduated in 2022.
“The clinical placements especially helped with gaining the confidence to manage ocular diseases and conditions, as it was an opportunity to talk through different scenarios and different presentations. It was great to be able to discuss my thoughts on possible treatment and compare it to their actual treatment.
“It helped to see ‘real-world’ cases,” said Ms Fraser.
Applications for the ACO’s range of certificate courses are opening soon and more information can be found on their website, www.aco.org.au.