ATLANTA – SECO International and the U.K.-based Association of Optometrists, during a press conference here at the SECO meeting, signed an agreement to jointly host an annual meeting in London.
The two organizations have worked together to host meetings in the U.K. for more than a decade, but “London 2013, Education Destination” will be the first to take place in London and to be under the control of the AOP.
“The relationship has evolved and aligned with our goal of being the best provider of continuing education worldwide,” SECO President Ronald Foreman, OD, said at the press conference. “AOP and SECO will be equal partners in our London education destination. It has tremendous potential to become the SECO of Europe.”
AOP Chairman David Shannon, OD, FAAO, MCOptom, told attendees, “We see a partnership bringing U.K. and U.S. doctors together, learning from each other, particularly in the U.K., looking inspirationally to U.S. optometry. The U.S. is a long way ahead of the U.K. now, but we’re catching up. What we plan on doing at SECO is to get doctors of optometry in the U.K. to practice at the same standard of optometry as the U.S.”
The new conference will take place Oct. 6 to 8 at the AOP office in London. Continuing education credits will be available for U.S. doctors and CET credits will be available for U.K. doctors, according to Shannon. Speakers will include optometrists from both the U.S. and the U.K. Attendees will be encouraged to bring their families; a full social program will be offered and a tour of the nearby Moorefield’s Eye Hospital will be available.
Foreman said 70 U.S. doctors have already requested more information from SECO on the meeting.
Elizabeth Taylor, SECO executive director, said, “We’re very positive about this meeting and feel it will grow rapidly.”
She said a “soft launch” of a meeting in London in 2012 was successful after little marketing, with 56 attendees, including 12 from the U.S.
“The goal is to grow this meeting to be the size of SECO,” she said.
Karen Sparrow, MCOptom, FAAO, FEAOO, head of professional development for the AOP, said only a few hundred U.K. optometrists have therapeutic specialization at this point.
“There’s a shortage of ophthalmologists, so there’s not much pushback,” Shannon said. “That shortage is probably due to 60 years of socialized medicine, so there’s an enormous demand.”