Enhanced services, professional standards and children’s eyecare were among the key themes at this year’s Specsavers Professional Advancement Conference, held on Sunday 11 October. The multiple’s annual clinical conference – which offered a phenomenal 96 CET points across the day – attracted more than 2,000 people, including optics and audiology practitioners and students from across the UK and Ireland, as well as delegates from the Netherlands, Nordics and Australia.

Expert speakers

Welcomed by Joint Group CEO Doug Perkins, the day featured an impressive line-up of expert speakers, including a presentation by Australia’s Prof. Harry Weisinger on the future of optometry. Prof. Weisinger, Specsavers’ Global Director of Professional Services, said: ‘The PAC is a crucially important event in the Specsavers professional calendar and there is no better opportunity to describe and discuss trends in eyecare. ‘The NHS is under immense economic pressure and optometry and eyecare in the UK is changing rapidly with the enhanced services agenda coming to the fore. As a profession and as individuals, we must advance our skills and knowledge in order to stay relevant.’

Lectures, hands-on workshops and peer discussions

Twelve different halls at the ICC in Birmingham were utilised to offer a jam-packed programme of lectures, hands-on workshops and peer discussions on diverse topics, from investigation and referral of less common pathologies to making the most of visual fields. Keynote speaker Prof. Nathan Efron AC, from the Queensland University of Technology, addressed delegates about re-thinking contact lens aftercare.

Professors from Aston and Ulster University

Elsewhere, Aston University’s Prof. James Wolffsohn spoke about contact lens deposits and drop-outs and the University of Ulster’s Prof. Kathryn Saunders discussed amblyopia. The audiology programme featured a lecture by Prof. Todd Ricketts, from the USA’s Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, on current amplification technology. Trainee dispensing opticians also enjoyed a dedicated programme of lectures and workshops. In between sessions, delegates were able to browse the industry exhibitor stands, take part in extra quiz-based CET, and catch up with colleagues from across the Specsavers group.

A few words from UK Director of Professional Services 

Paul Carroll, Specsavers’ UK Director of Professional Services, said that the PAC as a brand was going from strength to strength. ‘Now in its 21st year, this main conference is the flagship event of our professional development programme. It has spawned separate clinical conferences in Australia, four Nordic countries, as well as a regular series of regional MiniPAC events around the UK and Ireland – ensuring that Specsavers practitioners across the world have access to high quality, interactive learning in a peer-to-peer setting.

CET programme

‘Specsavers’ CET programme offers lots of ways for busy practitioners to earn their points in a variety of formats, from online quizzes to in-store peer discussions. Clearly, practitioners also enjoy getting out of their stores, meeting up with colleagues from different practices and taking part in this kind of interactive learning – this year’s main conference was a great success.’

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