THE MIND IS FASCINATING. While we are naturally inclined to constantly acquire information, translating that knowledge into new behaviors is a significant challenge, especially when there is a long lag between receiving that knowledge and putting it into practice.
I recently attended a workshop on a new lens design software program. With my experience in customizing specialty lenses, I thought this new tool would be intuitive and easy to use. However, delving into the intricacies and discovering all the customization options it offers opened so many doors that my brain quickly became saturated.
After a few days absorbing all this information, I admittedly moved on to other tasks in my faculty life. Then, two weeks later, I returned to this new tool to custom fit a complex scleral lens case. I found myself at the computer like a writer suffering from writer’s block.
Where to begin? How could I rebalance this point that seemed to prefer the stratosphere to a soft landing on the ocular surface without unbalancing the entire lens? What were the reference values for this or that parameter? I finally managed to square the circle by rereading my notes and, more importantly, by teaming up with colleagues who had attended the same workshop. They say it takes a village...
After finally hitting the “send” button to order the lens, I thought of the thousands of colleagues who have attended scleral or orthokeratology training workshops. Most were there to learn the concepts and recipes that would allow them to implement a new technology into their practice. After serving as a proctor for many of these training sessions, it has become clear to me that many attendees have not been able to integrate these new tools into their practices over the long term.
My sense is that less than 20% of the attendees are still actively prescribing these specialty lenses. Likely, this occurred because they delayed putting theory into practice, and when the time came, they felt insecure and alone in their offices. The learning curve was simply too steep.
This approach needs to be reevaluated. First, a difference must be made between beginners and those who want to improve their performance (offering two tracks). Their needs are different.
We should also find ways to make the theory more digestible. There is so much to absorb in a few hours, even in one day. One option may be to rely on an easily accessible online webinar series that precedes the workshop. Another would be to plan several sessions, spread out over time, so that participants can integrate better and have time to implement the necessary changes in their practice—slowly but surely.
Participants need to apply what they’ve learned the next day with all the new concepts fresh in their minds. It’s also important to work as a team, as colleague input is very helpful.
Finally, start by mastering a specific design. Trying to understand the characteristics of different designs at the same time will be very confusing. And don’t forget to consult the manufacturer’s experts. Don’t just ask them to solve your problems; ask them to explain how they do it. This is the only way to do it better next time.
When we train or introduce new technologies, we must not minimize the effort involved or the differences that may exist between our goals and reality. We must mind this gap. CLS