Ray Palmer is a newer optician that was recently hired at Star Optical. His store manager, Barbara Gordon, has been impressed with how fast Ray picks up new knowledge and skills at the job. At the end of each year, Barbara meets with all of her employees to ensure that they are completing their mandatory continuing education requirements. Barbara is committed to supporting the continuous learning of all the opticians she employs.
During his annual review, Ray asks Barbara the point of continuing education. Ray feels that because he has already completed schooling, passed the national examination, registered with the College, and is now working with patients that he has already put in the time and effort necessary to become an optician. Ray asks Barbara why these continuing education programs are in place as he feels like he excels at his job and does not need to further his education.
Barbara, while agreeing that Ray is an excellent employee, explains to Ray that continuing education is necessary because the world is continuously changing, new technology is being created faster than ever, and even patient expectations are forever changing. In order to adapt to all these changes, people need to keep learning. A successful optician in the future can look very different from a successful optician today.
Barbara’s Explanation: Reasons for Continuing Education
Having updated continuing education ensures:
1. Safe quality care
2. Professional identity
3. Continuous improvement
Safe Quality Care
As a health care professional, you have a duty to provide safe quality care to your patients. Understanding the changing climate of opticianry and identifying what you need to learn helps you better serve your patients. Continuing education also assists you in keeping current with new opticianry techniques and technology. Today’s patients are internet savvy and have access to an increased level of information to become actively involved in their own care. App-based disease monitoring, smartphone solutions, and smart contact lenses (eg: glaucoma pressure monitoring) will further shift the responsibility of care further into the patient’s domain.
Opticians are given more ways to serve patients than ever before. Further automation will require opticians to learn how to embrace multi-disciplinary teams, cutting edge technologies, digital dispensing, and expand into areas like orthoptics. In addition, Opticians will need to learn stronger communication and soft skills to care for patients.
To thrive and give people the reason and confidence to see you, it is important for you to distinguish yourself and to position a strong professional identity. What are your niches? As a health professional, you automatically provide trust to patients because they believe you are going to provide safe care by doing the right thing. In addition, consider what you want to be known for in terms of speciality areas of practice or how you’re positioned as an expert.
You can learn skills that can contribute to your workplace. Diversifying or expanding your skill set can make you an indispensable member of the team.
The key to remaining relevant in a rapidly changing world is having the drive to continuously improve. Curiosity can help drive passion and push your skills and knowledge to the limit. Think about never saying “I don’t know,” but instead strive to seek answers. There is always so much to learn and the ability to evolve that your practice can take different directions with time.
Continuing education is just a program to help you continuously improve. Completing your continuing education requirements demonstrates your commitment to lifelong learning. Understanding that learning does not stop when you leave school can help create a work environment that supports asking questions and making mistakes as long as you learn from those mistakes.
Barbara explains safe quality care, professional identity, and continuous improvement and room for failure to Ray. She also explains that conducting the annual development follow-up encourages her employees to participate in their own learning. Developing goals is important for professionals to continue thriving. The only way to predict the future is to have the power to shape it.