Jottings: Rising to the CET challenge

Stuart Wellings BSc (Hons) FBDO

Is online interactive CET the future of learning? asks Stuart Wellings

Online CET has been around for a while, through articles and various webinars and online lectures. Earlier this year, however, the General Optical Council (GOC) approved the online peer review format – enabling registrants to take part in group discussions online.

As a CET provider relying predominantly on delegates attending events in person, the Covid-19 situation has significantly disrupted our plans for 2021. However, the opportunity to provide an online alternative has enabled us to continue to provide a service to our clients as well as reach a new audience.

We currently spend our day-to-day working lives speaking to our peers, sharing experiences and asking each other for advice. So when we are thrown into a situation where that interaction is limited, the opportunity to speak to a fellow professional is welcomed.

From my own personal perspective, as the husband of a key worker, my day usually consists of home-schooling three children and half-hearted attempts at housework. That one hour where I can send the kids out of the room and speak to adults in a stimulating manner, and engage my brain into challenging topics, is something I look forward to.

But it’s not just us here at iCET who are providing this service. A number of suppliers and CET providers have risen to the challenge to support professionals through education, often free of charge, and we have been lucky to work with a number of suppliers during lockdown to provide CET.

Listening to customers

One example is practice software provider Xeyex. As soon as lockdown was announced, Grant Cardwell and Tracy Scott and the team set up a series of zoom meetings with their customers to share ideas and listen to what they wanted from the company.

Grant had this to say: “At Xeyex, we put the customer at the heart of what we do. We’ve never just been a supplier, we’ve actively tried to work as a partner for independent opticians. Running a business can be lonely enough at the best of times, so when Covid 19 was gathering momentum we instantly felt that bringing our customers together and ask, ‘What do you need from us now?’. The overwhelming requests for up-skilling saw us launch a full month of training across May with more than 30 training sessions including CET.”

Another well-established education provider,, which we’ve helped with some peer reviews, have also been running a series of free webinars provided by a range of suppliers.

Peter Charlesworth of said: “It has been a privilege to be able to support optometrists and dispensing opticians who are not in practice with a series of free webinars. We are also grateful to our sponsors for supporting the costs of the platform. I would say there has been a noticeable rise in people completing CET and I would like to thank the GOC for expanding the requests to have more online CET options.”

Jeff Landucci from AOS has also been working alongside us to run some free workshops about remote triaging, as well as Thea Pharmaceuticals to provide a series of dry eye webinars helping practices to understand how dry eye patients can still be managed remotely from a safe distance.

Jeff said: “AOS feels it’s important during his period to keep the education path available to all, especially furloughed staff. We still need to provide a service for our customers and if we can help then we will, both through education and offering free anterior software to help practices triage and diagnose emergency appointments.”

There have been so many options available, professionals have been spoilt for choice. With ABDO running numerous webinars and online peer reviews members have been well catered for in the absence of regional events. Many others, such as Essilor, have also stepped up to provide a range of webinars about lenses, and Dan Williams of Visualise Trainings and Consultancy has offered a series of webinars about understanding low vision.

It’s safe to say that with so many options available, earning interactive CET points is not something that should be difficult these days, as all you need is a smartphone. I often say to people, you can never have enough CET points, but at times like this there is much more to be gained from taking part.

We’re looking forward to our next set of online sessions with two all-day events planned in June and July.

Stuart Wellings BSc (Hons) FBDO is a dispensing optician and founder of iCET.