The Continuing Education Quest
How can you change CE? Start by joining the discussion.
FROM THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jim Thomas
Optometric continuing education (CE) is big business, as Chief Optometric Editor Scot Morris, O.D. reminds us in this month’s special report, beginning on page 16 (“Is It Time to Change CE?”). CE is an issue that impacts all optometrists and everyone who interacts with them, including industry representatives, practice staff and patients — in short, most Americans.
Tapping some of the top minds in the area of optometric education, our special report asks a series of questions, among them: Should CE be presented differently? Should it focus more on outcomes than credits? What is technology’s role in CE? And, how do finances affect potential changes? By creating dialogue around such questions, Dr. Morris hopes the profession can “create a positive meaningful change” in future eye care education.
If we look at the research, studies such as “Effectiveness of Continuing Medical Education,” prepared by Johns Hopkins University in 2007, concludes that continuing adult education works to some degree. However, there does not appear to be enough evidence to identify the characteristics of successful continuing adult education (class size, print vs. live vs. online, single medium vs. multimedia, interactive vs. lecturer). Phrases such as “remains underexplored,” “a need for further rigorous research,” “evidence was limited” and “difficult to determine” were the rule, not the exception, in the studies.
So yes, health care professionals are learning from continuing education, but we don’t know exactly why. . . at least not just yet.
That leaves us to draw conclusions based on experiences and intuition. Here, I’ll offer another variable: the teacher. How valuable is the instructor who can analyze complex information and present it in an easy-to-understand format? How successful is the facilitator who can command attention for hours, regardless of class size or medium? What are the benefits of the teacher who continues a dialogue well past the end of a CE session? And how do we quantify that charismatic personality that motivates us to learn?
Whether your outlook on education is optimistic (“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” — Ben Franklin) or otherwise (“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education” — Albert Einstein), please join the discussion that we begin in this issue. OM