Interview with Helen Tilley
General Optical Council eBulletin 43
August 2019

Interview with Helen Tilley, GOC Council member

We spoke with Helen Tilley, a registrant GOC Council member, about her personal experiences of pursuing CET and her approach to professional development.

1. Do you think Continuing Education and training (CET) can help professional development? How has CET helped your career?

Even before it was compulsory, I made sure I attended CET events. CET has kept me up to date with the ever-changing landscape we operate in. Certainly 30 years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt I would be treating eye disease and monitoring glaucoma patients in my practice. CET has kept me interested in my job and after all my years in practice, I can hand on heart say I still love my work.

2. How do you plan the CET activity you undertake?

After qualifying in Independent Prescribing (IP) and recently studying for a professional certificate in glaucoma, most of my CET has been about building on the knowledge I have in those areas. But usually at the beginning of the cycle I pursue activities which interest me and will enhance my knowledge. There are also compulsory events I must attend to keep Welsh Eye Care Service (WECS) accredited. Then typically, about halfway through the cycle I conduct a review to identify any competencies I haven’t already covered. Thankfully that is usually very few!

3. Which type of CET training (peer review, conferences etc.) do you prefer and why?

I very rarely do online CET, as I like discussing topics with my peers at events and being able to ask the CET provider questions. You can learn so much at events by meeting with people. In my practice we have regular peer review sessions where we share and discuss difficult cases.

4. You recently completed your glaucoma qualification and completed an IP course last year. Why did you decided to purse both courses? / How has your career benefitted from pursuing both courses?

I thought long and hard about doing IP, as going back to that level of study in my 50s was a daunting prospect. But increasingly at my practice we were treating eye disease in conjunction with the GPs and it made sense for me to develop my expertise.
In a collaboration with the local hospital my practice has been running a virtual glaucoma clinic for several years. My professional glaucoma certificate has helped me discuss possible outcomes with patients prior to them getting a letter from the consultant informing of them of their treatment pathway. My patients greatly appreciate the advice I am able to provide.
We also play an important role in managing the referral process. We effectively control the speed at which the patients are reviewed by consultants by triaging cases based on urgency.
Pursuing both courses has benefitted my career because I am never bored of the work I do in practice; I find my work both interesting and challenging. Every day is different, and we are able to do so much more than routine sight tests.

5. As a practice owner do you think there are specific training courses that are important for your staff members to undertake?

I expect all my optometrists to be WECS accredited and keep up with those requirements. Otherwise, I leave it to them to decide how they wish to develop. I also support my dispensing opticians to undertake courses which interest them.
We have regular all staff in-house training on products, and we have ongoing staff training days to develop career pathways within the practice.

6. As you know we are currently undertaking a CET review, what changes would you like to see made to the CET scheme?

I personally think that review is needed. The optical world is developing fast and practitioners must keep pace with the changes. I would like to see more peer interaction and reflective practice encouraged.


Welcome to our CET-themed eBulletin

Interview with Helen Tilley

Interview with Marcus Dye

Interview with Roma Malik

CET cycle evaluation 2016-18

News in brief

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