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Increasing demand for online CPD during coronavirus restrictions

Optometry Australia (OA) has identified a growing appetite for online CPD amid COVID-19, as the regulator confirmed it won’t penalise optometrists who fall short of their CPD requirements this year.

OA president Mr Darrell Baker also announced the organisation will unveil a new initiative relating to online continuing professional development (CPD) in coming weeks after the pandemic forced the cancellation of face-to-face conferences.

In a video message to members, Baker said: “Optometry Australia has significantly ramped up the range of CPD programs that you [members] can access online, including delivery of an expanded range of quality webcasts.

“Two webcasts we presented to support the virtual WAVE program attracted a combined 1,250 attendees which demonstrates the growing appetite among members for this type of education.”

WAVE 2020 was due to take place 21-22 March in Perth but was revised to be delivered via a series of free 60 or 90 minute webcasts on Sundays from late March. The Australian Vision Convention (AVC) took place 4-5 April, also as a virtual event.

Baker said OA has also introduced a new COVID-19 bulletin which members can opt-in to receiving.

“It provides links to the most up-to-date information available on managing this pandemic. It supplements our regular more comprehensive communications which members automatically receive.”

Baker added that the organisation is “continuing to press the Optometry Board of Australia about CPD requirements in this current crisis”.

The Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) updated its position on CPD on 3 April, encouraging optometrists to continue to undertake CPD relevant to their scope of practice.

“However, we understand that optometrists may have difficulty meeting CPD requirements this year as a result of withdrawn or denied leave requests, conference cancellations and the re-prioritisation necessary to meet workforce needs,” OBA chair Mr Ian Bluntish said.

“The OBA will not take action if optometrists cannot meet the CPD registration standard due to the pandemic when they renew their registration this year,” he said.

In the coming days the OBA will be publishing two new CPD guidance documents on its website to help optometrists understand the revised continuing professional development registration standard.

“The revised CPD standard was initially published in July 2019 and will replace the existing standard on 1 December 2020. It is important that optometrists remember they do not have to declare they have met this standard until they renew their registration in 2021,” Bluntish said.

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