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What is your main source of ongoing training?
Even before the shift in content delivery was firmly established, speculation about how the new wave of digital technology would affect existing platforms was rampant. The destruction of television, books and newspapers (among others) was predicted, with many envisaging these humble media would quake and fall before the internet behemoth.
While it is certainly true that digital content delivery has changed the way many people access information, with Google now reigning supreme, the internet's mastery over every other media form is not as complete as had been feared (by those in the industry, at least).
Our results show overwhelmingly that "traditional" sources of training and information remain the most popular with doctors.
Certainly, it is more convenient and less expensive to access information remotely. Attending an online seminar usually requires nothing more than an hour away from patients, whereas undertaking, for example, wetlab training during congresses may require fees for registration, travel and accommodation, as well as up to a week away from your practice. When reading a journal online, one has access to, potentially, an entire archive of information at just the click of a button.
Why then does the bias in favour of traditional methods remain?
A primary reason is that there tend to be concerns, whether justified or not, over the legitimacy of the information that is available online. Peer-reviewed journal articles come with a guarantee of expertise, while a Google search result could have been written by a first-year student. In terms of practical training, wetlabs offer the opportunity for participants to get their hands dirty, as it were, and to practise new techniques immediately. In a classroom environment, it is also possible to tailor the learning experience to participants' particular needs. In addition, it should be borne in mind that doctors attend congresses for a variety of different reasons - including networking and hospitality - and not simply for training.
As the quality of digital delivery continues to improve, and the online experience becomes ever more three-dimensional, it will be inevitable that the adoption of the internet as a primary information source will continue to grow, although this does not necessarily mean that online education will replace traditional methods. It is more likely that the various formats will coexist in harmony, and that fully integrated media solutions will be available from all providers.
All visitors to the OTE website ( http://www.oteurope.com/) are invited to participate in the surveys on our homepage, and the discussion forum is open to contributions from all members of our European Ophthalmology group. OTE actively encourages members to initiate new discussion topics. To become a member of the European Ophthalmology community, please go to http://www.oteurope.com/forum/. To join the debate, please visit http://www.oteurope.com/discuss/