Preparing you for change

The Foresight Project examines the how the future of optometry might look up to 2030, including the potential impact of technology among other things.

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Author: Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MCOptom, Clinical Adviser
Date: 22 March 2016

This week saw the publication of an eye opening, and future gazing, report. Commissioned by the Optical Confederation and The College of Optometrists and principally funded by The Central Optical Fund, the Foresight Project examined the how the future of optometry might look up to 2030, including the potential impact of technology among other things. 

The results of the Foresight Report are fascinating and, although no sector will be immune to the changes, health and optometry particularly will be transformed by the development of new technologies, treatments as well as patients’ abilities to self-diagnose.

So how can optometrists anticipate and prepare for change? First of all we need to change our mindset about learning and understand this as being a key part of professional life. As well as being life-long, new skill development is something that goes beyond gaining CET points which is why the College’s  learning is branded CPD – continuing professional development, of which CET is only a part.

Continued learning is something that many optometrists have already embraced and the College’s Optical Workforce Survey (OWS), published in February, revealed that less than a quarter of the optometrist respondents had no additional qualifications, half had one additional qualification, and the remaining quarter had between two and seven additional qualifications. 

These additional qualifications mean that optometrists are busy becoming specialists and over 58% of the OWS’ survey respondents also indicated a special clinical area of interest within optometry. In line with this trend, the College is seeing a big increase in the uptake of its higher qualifications. The combination of higher learning and higher skills development will of course enable optometrists to take full advantage of some of the opportunities arising now through community schemes.

We may not be able to predict the future, but together we can help shape and prepare for it.

Last but not least, clinical decision making will also set some optometrists apart, which is why the College places such emphasis on learning that involves developing clinical practice and judgement – from the College’s Guidance for professional practice to our peer discussion events and ethical scenarios – our guidance and CPD opportunities are all geared to not just interpreting an image in a way that a machine would but enabling the practitioner to take a view and recommend a course of action. 

We hope that, like us, you will embrace these changes and see them for what they are -  opportunities. Our purpose is to prepare you for them – by upskilling and guiding you in both your career and your professional development, but also by making sure that optometry as a profession is recognised and enabled to do more, within a developing skill set and in recognition of new equipment and new service delivery models. 

The College will also be taking forward the important findings of both the Foresight Report and the Optical Workforce Survey as part of a roundtable discussion involving representatives of all the main bodies serving the profession, from the universities to employers and manufactuers.  We may not be able to predict the future, but together we can help shape and prepare for it.

Read the Foresight Report and The College’s Optical Workforce Survey.

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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