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AAO and ASCO Launch Virtual Clinical Training Program

The goal is to educate optometry students from 25 North American universities during COVID-19 crisis.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ORLANDO, FL – The American Academy of Optometry, in partnership with the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, launched a new virtual clinical education program in March to assist with case-based learning for optometry students. Working with the deans and faculty of optometric schools and colleges, the program has seen huge success with more than 2,300 students attending sessions from over 25 institutions across the U.S. and Canada.

Academy Board President Dr. Barbara Caffery said, “We are thrilled with the response to this program. We have students from more than 26 countries participating in sessions. It is a new model we believe will continue to work for both universities and students well into the future.”

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As part of their clinical curriculum, optometry students see patients in clinics, practices, hospitals, and VA settings to gain first-hand patient experience. However, in the current COVID-19 environment, many are unable to continue direct patient care because of safety practices. For this reason, the Academy created the Student Online Clinical Case Education Program (SOCCEP) in a matter of a couple of weeks time, to provide live streamed and/or recorded content for students to continue their education.

Each education session is approximately 30 minutes long, and according to the latest statistics the program has had:

  • 139 presenters from universities and industry
  • 202 sessions
  • 2,331 unique attendees
  • 28,731 hours of education
  • 41,256 session accessed from attendees; averaging 17.5 sessions attended per unique attendee.

While the program was designed to help fourth-year students and residents build on their clinical experience, it is expected to be utilized as a supplemental and continuing education program for others.

The organizers hope it will also demonstrate to students, residents, and members the commitment of the Academy as a leading contributor to continuing education and professional development. The Academy provides leading professional education and opportunities for lifetime learning to our members, and we’re proud to partner with ASCO to provide supplemental education to the schools programming.

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Academy Chief Executive Officer Peter Scott said, “We see this as an educational partnership that happened to be born from a crisis, and our members really stepped up to make a difference in the lives of these students by helping them move forward with their education. Providing programs like this is part of the Academy’s new strategic plan, and our members can expect to see more programming like this as we continue to evolve.”

Dr. Elizabeth Hoppe, Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) president and founding dean, Western University of Health Sciences, College of Optometry, says, “On behalf of ASCO, I would like to thank the Academy. This has been an invaluable resource to support our schools and colleges during this difficult time.”

For additional information on the Student Online Clinical Case Education Program, click here or the ASCO website.

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