Meet Jim Dickson, Head of Professional Affairs UK & Ireland
Having worked in the eye care industry for many years, Jim Dickson – a highly motivated contact lens optician – joined the mark’ennovy team in 2021. Since then, Jim has headed up the mark’ennovy academy. As part of his Professional Affairs roles, Jim has written and delivered training sessions on multifocal contact lens fitting, custom contact lenses, myopia management and dry eye disease. Jim has provided clinical coaching in practice as well as in educational facilities.
Here, we catch up with Jim to discover more…
So, where did it all start?
“I’ve been in the optics industry all my adult life. I started as a trainee dispensing optician (DO) when I was 17 years old, as soon as I left school. I started working as a trainee DO with Dollond & Aitchison, the biggest chain in the UK at the time. In those days, opticians were very different: they weren’t allowed to advertise and things were a lot more restrictive. More than 40 years on, the market I joined then has no bearing on where we are today. When you look at opticians from those early days, there was a complete lack of commercialisation and some opticians looked like undertakers from the outside!
During my first job, I enrolled in a day release course run by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians. I qualified when I was 20. In those days, to sell and dispense glasses, you had to be a qualified optician. Over the years there’s been a shift away from this and, from my perspective, this is where mark’ennovy has an advantage because we’re appealing for eye care professionals to actually go back to their core skills and to recognise what they’ve invested in their education.”
Tell us about the mark’ennovy academy
“We understand the challenges of fitting contact lenses and recognise that even the most capable optometrist may occasionally need support and guidance. We started a series of training resources as a source of education and also for reassurance. Not all patients seen will need a custom lens so, with that level of exposure, an eye care professional is unlikely to be fully familiar with all materials or parameters available. This is where we come in. The academy is a platform to highlight new developments, share the latest insights and showcase the latest products.
I record each webinar as a standalone and, at the moment, we offer masterclasses on How To Fit Custom Contact Lenses, Introduction to Myopia Management and, in the future, I will host a webinar on multi-focal lenses.”
What advice do you have for eye care professionals?
“One of the things that we should be doing, as a profession, is working to our strengths and our professionalism, and recognising what we’ve invested in practice equipment and education. Also, if we want to differentiate ourselves from other opticians, we need to make sure we offer the best lenses to the patient for their individual needs. By becoming a custom lens specialist, you’re sending a message that says: ‘I’m here and I will tackle complicated eyesight scenarios and challenging prescriptions’. I think that we as a profession have to create a differential – and to be seen to offer the best for our patients.”
What changes would you like to see in the profession?
“I’d like to see more recognition for the skill set of contact lens opticians and dispensing opticians, who could be offering enhanced eye care services. I think this will come. I’d like to see the training of non-qualified staff to do simple tasks, in order to free up the time of the optometrist. Also, I’d like to see high street opticians recognise that they should be the first port of call for dry eye disease management and then be rewarded appropriately by the NHS. This would save the NHS time and money.”
If you’d like to join Jim at the mark’ennovy academy, see here for upcoming training and events.
The mark’ennovy academy is a free, dedicated training platform – featuring webinars and masterclasses. All of the training webinars are delivered via Microsoft Teams and are tailored to help you offer the best possible contact lens-wearing experience for your patients.
Product overview: Core monthly product range. Watch here.
Optician Magazine Article: Fitting soft custom lenses – Seven Steps to success. Published September, 2022. Read here.
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We work exclusively with eye care professionals. For more information please contact your local eye care professional.
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