AIO Conference 2016 #Optom


Clare from Babo
Had an absolutely fantastic time at the AIO conference today! It really has changed my perspective of independent practices. I've always wanted to open my own in the future, but I wasn't really sure about where to go for pre-reg. Once we arrived, we grabbed a quick cup of tea and it was off to meet Joseph from the College of Optometrist.

The talk was really informative and we learnt so much about the structure of the OSCE examinations, which we undertake as pre-registration optoms. There are 75 different competences that we must complete within the working year, at the end there are 14 stations to complete. It's a strange process, 5 minutes per station and then your up and moved on to the next one. So a station is comparable to a 'question' say in a normal exam. Your given a scenario and 1 minute to read over the patients record card. Once you enter the room, it's up to you to show the assessor that you understand the nature of the diagnosis and how to communicate that to your patient. It was really interesting to find out that actually, the patients are trained actors! They're given their scripts months in advance in order to give a realistic impression of what it would be like. Of these 14 stations, we are required to pass 10 in order to be deemed competent.

In small groups, we were then tasked with creating our own station criteria. We chose a communication card and also a diagnosis. My group got hard of hearing with a cataract patient that did not require surgery. Luckily, I did a British Sign Language course so I had some basic knowledge of deaf awareness. The patient may not necessarily be deaf, maybe a later onset due to age (most likely with an early diagnosis of cataract). This was really useful, allowing us to see how the marking criteria is developed and how to create our own revision tools.

We grabbed a free lunch, music to every students ears and wandered around the exhibition. My favourite part of any outing, the networking! We met lots of different, interesting and inspiring people. Charities with a focus on disabled children and those with learning difficulties. Helping them get the most out of their eye examination and what is required of them afterwards - See ability. To holistic treatment of accommodation (the ability of an eye to change and maintain focus as the distance of the object varies) abnormalities - Babo. (@Clare_holland) The British association of behavioural optometrist, taking a different perspective to treating patients, training and working with them to improve visual defects.

Following lunch we looked at why independent practices could be beneficial to help broaden our knowledge and the contrast between corporate and independent. It was really refreshing that the talk was fairly unbiased and gave advantages and disadvantages to both as well as hospital placements. I'm definitely more inclined towards independent practice now. There we're two Cardiff alumni that joined us for the day, giving us their experience of independents. There was a real emphasis on the freedom that they had in terms of time and management of patients. It seems there is much more space to grow as an optician in an independent. Of course with any corporation there is a standard that is set for all stores, which completely restricts the flexibility of the optician in terms of management. This is good for standardising all the practices and to manage/maintain the expectations
of patients. Also could be useful for some pre-regs who need that kind of guidance. It's different depending on what your looking for and what you want.

Habiba & Garry

I also got to meet Garry Kousoulou, (@Opticians) a massive social media advocate. I've been following him on various social media accounts for a while now and it was awesome to finally meet him! The optoms could feel the energy exuding from him and  he really got everyone enthusiastic about our field and where it's going. We even did a live Facebook broadcast, how cool!

There's another day left of the AIO conference, so pop along to the Vale resort tomorrow if you'd like to meet some fantastic people. There's so much more I could say, that I will follow up in another post. There's some pics of the goodies I gathered.

Until next time ... xo

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  1. Lovely to meet you too. Great blog btw
    You come to Enfield anytime you are ready.