My three key ingredients for a successful CET event

Clinical Adviser, Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MCOptom, explains his reasons why Optometry Tomorrow is the must-attend conference of the year.

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Author: Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MCOptom, Clinical Adviser 
Date: 28 November 2017

With the programme now live, Optometry Tomorrow 2018 is set to be the highlight of next year’s optical calendar. Last year the conference attracted over 900 attendees and got some great feedback, with more than 97% of delegates rating it as good or excellent, and with one member advising that it gave her back her mojo for optometry!  

This made me wonder, why is Optometry Tomorrow so popular and what makes it unique? With numerous CET events taking place throughout the year and more and more CET content available online, why does an optometrist choose Optometry Tomorrow above all the rest? I choose it for three reasons: it’s hands-on, it brings together research and clinical practice and it inspires my optometric curiosity. I’ll explain why: 

1. It’s hands on…

It’s really struck me over the last 10 years of attending Optometry Tomorrow, how popular the workshop streams have become, and it is not surprising when you consider how our role has evolved and continues to do so. The new NICE guidance on glaucoma is a good example of how the future demand for a skilled workforce cannot be understated. With this increasing demand for optometrists’ clinical services, comes an increased need for optometrists to develop our hands-on-skills and get to grips with new techniques and technology, be it tonometry, gonioscopy or OCT.
Of course, one workshop is not enough to be thoroughly competent in any discipline. But we all need a ‘safe space’ to reintroduce ourselves to old techniques or take those first steps with new ones. Over the years, Optometry Tomorrow is where hundreds, perhaps thousands, of optometrists have picked up and used a Goldmann tonometer or gonioscopy lens for the first time since university, safe in the knowledge that they are being guided by experts and supported by colleagues. This year, there are three workshop streams with more than 500 workshop places available – so lots of opportunities to get stuck in! 

We all need a ‘safe space’ to reintroduce ourselves to old techniques or take those first steps with new ones.

2. It brings together research and clinical practice…

At the heart of any professional discipline is academic research, and using that research to inform our clinical practice. Optometry Tomorrow is not an academic conference like ARVO and nor is it a trade fair. It is firmly positioned as a professional conference - the place where research meets practice and academics show how their research is relevant to shaping our clinical practice, both now and in the future.

Optometry Tomorrow has impartially and integrity. Its primary purpose is to develop and educate members and it is totally focused on the needs of practising optometrists. Many years ago, I attended a lecture by Professor Francesca Corderio on her research into the mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease, including glaucoma and Alzheimer’s. This has been in the news ever since. It redefined my thoughts on what may become possible within a sight examination, although it is still yet to enter our consulting rooms. Other key speakers have included Professor Nathan Efron on grading and Professor David Henson on structure and function in visual field loss and their work is also influencing what we do in practice.

This year Professor David Crabb, from City University’s Crabb Lab, will be speaking on big data, Dr Nicola Logan from Aston will be focussing on myopia, and Professor John Sparrow from Bristol will be advising on the new NICE guidance. These are just a few of the presenters whose work will be both challenging and influencing ours. 

3. It inspires curiosity…

Just occasionally at a conference, you have a moment when a concept clicks, the incomprehensible becomes clear or that new thing is just so amazing, you have to tell someone. That feeling of intellectual excitement and scientific curiosity when you discover a new idea, concept or new way of thinking is, for me, one of the greatest things about our profession and one that I hear many optometrists’ associate with Optometry Tomorrow. One of those standout moments for me was when the eminent neurobiologist, Professor Colin Blakemore delivered his keynote address in 2016. Through a picture of a cow, I re-discovered, the wonder of the eye and the brain! This year, I am looking forward to hearing from Dr Andrew Bastawrous, an ophthalmologist, an innovator and most importantly a person attempting to deliver eye care more effectively in parts of the world where preventable sight loss is still too high. 
So, those are my three reasons for heading for Birmingham next March. How about you? Do let us know why you attend Optometry tomorrow and, whatever your reason, be it inspiring your curiosity or simply networking and gaining points I am looking forward to seeing you there.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom
Clinical Adviser, The College of Optometrists

Daniel graduated from Anglia Ruskin University, where he won the Haag Strait prize for best dissertation. Before joining the College, he was Managing Director of an independent practice in Cambridge and a visiting clinician at Anglia Ruskin University. He has also worked as a senior glaucoma optometrist with Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, with Newmedica across East Anglia and as a diabetic retinopathy screening optometrist. Daniel was a member of Cambridgeshire LOC from 2007 to 2015 and a member of the College of Optometrists’ Council from 2009 to 2014, representing its Eastern region.  

He is Clinical Adviser to the College of Optometrists for four days each week, dividing the remainder of his time between primary care practice and glaucoma community clinics. Daniel is a passionate advocate of the profession of optometry, committed to supporting all members of the profession and ensuring patient care is always at the heart of optometry. He was awarded Fellowship by Portfolio in December 2018.


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