Now in its third year, Optometry Virtually Connected surpassed expectations in attracting 2,185 delegate registrations for the 17-19 June 2022 virtual conference and product showcase.
Delegates flocked to the event’s program of quality education featuring 27 live lectures each with 10 multiple choice questions and 12 on-demand courses which combined, provided a maximum 40.5 hours of education.
Two streams were held daily including contact lenses and retinal disease (Saturday) and anterior eye disease and glaucoma (Sunday). Twenty-four presentations were delivered during these streams with each attracting an average 600+ delegates which resulted in 1,200 delegates being online in two rooms for each lecture throughout the weekend.
In addition to the steams, keynote speaker, Dr Noel Brennan attracted over 800 to his highly informative lecture on the Future Myopia Epidemic on Friday afternoon while the two plenary sessions on Saturday and Sunday, attracted over 930 and 960 participants respectively.
Launched in 2020 by Optometry Australia at the height of pandemic lockdowns, this event spearheaded virtual conferencing for the sector in Australia and the Asia Pacific region. New Zealand Association of Optometrists again partnered with Optometry Australia with 144 New Zealand optometrists registering to attend the 2022 event.
Optometry Australia CEO, Lyn Brodie said: ‘When we first conceived Optometry Virtually Connected COVID wasn’t even on the horizon. We are always looking to innovate and had recognised the value of online learning, to complement face-to-face education provided by our state divisions. It was timely, as within months of beginning our planning the world was feeling the full brunt of the pandemic with countries in strict locked down conditions.
‘As an early adopter of presenting a virtual conference and product showcase, our inaugural event was interesting to say the least; but we proudly delivered an excellent program that exceeded expectations and that was highly valued by delegates.
‘The response to our 2022 conference confirms that this type of format of learning is well received due to the quality of education that we offer and the flexibility of the format that allows delegates to come and go, to maintain patient and personal commitments.’
Murray Smith, Optometry Australia’s President said: ‘One of Optometry Australia’s key strategic goals is to provide our members with access to a program of quality education as we see education as the driver of change that bolsters optometrists’ ability to meet changing community eye health needs and expectations, including through evolution of scope of practice. This has seen us considerably expand our range of CPD programs through our Institute of Excellence.
‘We have also committed to taking our education programs internationally and Optometry Virtually Connected is central to this goal, as is our strong partnership with the New Zealand Association of Optometrists and the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board.
‘Developed by optometrists for optometrists, this year’s event offered an exceptional program of quality education presented by renowned optometric innovators,’ he said.
Peter Anderson, Executive Officer of the New Zealand Association of Optometrists explained that its partnership with Optometry Australia went beyond Optometry Virtually Connected.
‘NZAO has been part of Optometry Virtually Connected since its inception in 2020 and I know our members highly value being able to access its program of quality education as well as the education that you share with us through Optometry Connection, Clinical & Experimental Optometry and a program of on-demand webcasts.
‘While we have all been impacted over the past two-and-a-half years by the COVID pandemic, what has emerged is how we have all embraced technology and its capacity to enable us to communicate seamlessly irrelevant of where we are located.
‘I thank Optometry Australia for again providing us with the opportunity to support this event. We have a terrific relationship which grows stronger each year and we welcome our continuing friendship.’
You can watch the opening addresses and video here.
Welcome to country
This year’s event enabled Optometry Australia to also incorporate a traditional Welcome to Country delivered by Uncle Colin of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation who welcomed delegates to the lands of the traditional owners.
‘We warmly thank Uncle Colin for welcoming our delegates. Being able to incorporate this important element to Optometry Virtually Connected has ensured that we are honouring Optometry Australia’s respect for the traditional owners of the lands on which we do business and acknowledging first nations’ people in Australia, New Zealand and beyond.
‘It also highlights our commitment to reconciliation,’ Lyn Brodie said.
The social program was also popular with 325 people watching the Australian and New Zealand premiere of Open Your Eyes, a feature-length documentary into the future of health while exploring how optometrists can now see almost 300 systemic diseases in the eye.
Optometry Australia thanks the producer, Blink Films, Kerry Gelb and Chris Maraboli for giving us access to this thought-provoking film.
And our early morning yoga sessions on Saturday and Sunday each attracted over 430 participants who joined in 30 minutes of stretching with yoga teacher Debbie Lewis also providing wellness tips.
CPD update – members
CPD Hours: Optometry Australia will upload CPD hours from Optometry Virtually Connected live sessions into member’s individual Learning Plan. We anticipate this will take until Friday 24 June and all member delegates will be notified once this is done. Members are reminded that you must also complete a reflection of any CPD course that you complete.
Access to presentations: All live presentations were recording during Optometry Virtually Connected and they will be uploaded to the Optometry Australia Institute of Excellence and are expected to be available for viewing from 27 June.
Virtual conferencing here to stay
Since 2020, virtual conferencing is here to say according to EventMB which revealed in a recent survey that event planners will remain committed to a virtual strategy even as in-person events return, while 65% of event planners said that hybrid events are the future.
This trend is also reflected by state divisions which have also embraced hybrid event formats to deliver their annual conferences.
Optometry Australia is also committed to the delivery of virtual education through its Institute of Excellence. This includes Optometry Virtually Connected, its program of regular live sessions and interactive workshops and library of on-demand education.
The virtual format not only provides attendance flexibility but it also helps optometry reduce its environmental footprint – something that is important to Optometry Australia and firmly embedded in our strategic plan, explained CEO, Lyn Brodie.
Optometry Australia warmly thanks our sponsors for making Optometry Virtually Connected such a success.
Tagged as: CPD - education, Member services