Tag Archives: OPS

What Is “Edutainment”?

What is Edutainment? Is it education that entertains or is it the other way around?

Definition from the Free Dictionary:

ed·u·tain·ment (ĕj′o͞o-tān′mənt, ĕj′ə-) n.

  1. The act of learning through a medium that both educates and entertains.
  2. Any of various media, such as computer software, that educate and entertain.

When I am invited to speak at educational meetings, one of the most requested and popular presentation topics is a program titled, Ophthalmic Jeopardy!  Based on the popular television quiz show format that most everyone is familiar with, I’ve created an interactive learning experience that also manages to entertain.  In short, it’s “Edutainment”.  It’s not a new or novel idea, but I’ve taken it a step or two further than similar game show presentations in ophthalmic education. The evolution of Ophthalmic Jeopardy! is interesting.

Years ago, one of the faculty members at the Penn State Department of Ophthalmology approached me about improving our local technician education program. The program included a simple quiz-show format of questions-and-answers with the host reading questions out loud from hand-written cards. It worked, but he wanted to “jazz things up a little”. He told me he had done some online research and found a source for Jeopardy style lockout buzzers/lights that would allow contestants to buzz in when they knew the correct answer. He wanted to pick contestants from the audience and turn it into a competition. Now all he needed was a way to project the questions onscreen and asked if we could make it more interactive like Jeopardy, with onscreen columns of different question-and-answer categories.


I gave it some thought and told him it was possible, but entirely too much work to warrant the effort. But he knew me too well! I gave it a little more thought and started tinkering with the use of hyperlinks in PowerPoint to build an interactive screen that would allow us to randomly move back and forth between categories and questions. I had attended an OPS course entitled “Whiz-Bang PowerPoint Presentations” where Bill Anderson shared a way to hyperlink menus to organize an educational program with easy navigation between multiple speaker presentations. I figured I could build a Jeopardy template using similar hyperlinks between slides.


I converted our existing quiz questions into the Jeopardy answer and question format, but many of them were simple or dry examples. Taking inspiration from Jeopardy! and the sometimes tongue-in-cheek themes, I began accumulating new questions and categories that would entertain as well as test knowledge. In crafting questions, I’ve relied on many years of training and experience in writing questions for certification examinations. But instead of being restricted by the necessary rules for crafting certification questions, Jeopardy allowed me to have some fun and take liberties with some of the topics and content.

Suddenly the project grew and seemed to take on a life of its own. Each presentation contains over 250 hyperlinks, tons of photos, videos, and sound files. We can now chose from an ever growing bank of questions that numbers in the several hundreds! The content is never the same twice. Each time I present it, there are new content areas and questions, but I keep some of the core categories. Often the content will be customized to the specific audience; for example including a local trivia category at regional or international meetings. It’s a great way to review content from other presentations over the course of a day-long or multi day meeting.


In the early days, we would pick contestants who would use the buzzers to buzz in when they knew the answers, we kept score, and gave prizes to the winners. Different faculty members from Penn State Ophthalmology acted as the host and relished playing the part of Alex Trebek. I was the “puppet master” behind the scenes, driving the program and selecting the appropriate hyperlinks to navigate through the questions.

Something was still missing however. It was an entertaining spectacle, but the majority of the audience was reduced to bystanders when we could only chose five contestants from the group. So we eventually opened it up to the entire audience rather than a handful of contestants. At times it can become a little chaotic this way, but everyone seems engaged and involved.


Although we’ve used it at Penn State for audiences ranging from physicians, technicians and the general public, the version used at photography meetings has a higher level of both difficulty and “cheesiness”. Imagers seem to quickly recognize rare and unusual eye findings, but also have a warped sense of humor and “get” the tongue-in-cheek nature of the categories and questions. It works best with larger audiences so it’s become a staple at OPS Mid-Year Educational Programs where the entire group is together in one lecture hall.


For the last several years, I’ve come out from “behind the curtain” and started hosting Ophthalmic Jeopardy myself. When I retire from ophthalmic photography, maybe I can be a substitute for Alex Trebek! It’s entertaining for sure, but at its core it’s also educational. It’s a fun way to both laugh and learn – in short it’s “Edutainment”!


The concept of edutainment isn’t limited to Ophthalmic Jeopardy. It seems to make it’s way into many of my presentations such as: Stereopalooza, OCT- Anatomy of a Scan,  Cases That Tell a Story, Top Ten Uses of a 2×4 in Ophthalmology and others.

For information on how you can be in the audience for the next episode of Ophthalmic Jeopardy! click here.

The Value of Maintaining Certification

Along with holidays and festive celebrations, the end of the calendar year often marks the deadline to complete any recertification requirements in order to maintain your professional credentials.  I recently completed my OCT-C (Optical Coherence Tomographer-Certified) recertification in December, and just received my updated certificate in the mail. That will hold me for another three years. At the end of 2017, my other professional credential, the Certified Retinal Angiographer, will be up for recertification. It will mark my 30th year of proudly holding the CRA.

I’m not alone when it comes to maintaining these voluntary certifications. Johnny Justice Jr. continues to set an example by maintaining the CRA credential that he originally obtained in 1979 (the first time it was offered). That’s amazing to me.  Several others from that inaugural group of CRA recipients, including Peter Hay, Phil Chin, Tom Egnatz, and Chuck Etienne, also maintain their CRA after all these years.  None of them have anything to prove at this point in their careers, especially Johnny. He is a pioneer in the profession and was the driving force and founding member of the Ophthalmic Photographers’ Society. He is a well-known author and lecturer, and is universally considered the “Father” of our profession. He certainly doesn’t need the CRA to gain employment, or practice in his chosen profession. He proudly maintains his CRA out of respect for the credential, and what it means to the profession that he helped to create. It clearly has value to him after all these years and all his accomplishments.

In a highly technical field such as ophthalmic imaging it may seem surprising there are no licensure or certification requirements. Certification is strictly voluntary to perform in these roles. It is estimated that less than half the people working as ophthalmic photographers, assistants, or technicians are certified. It’s not easy to obtain certification, and it shouldn’t be. After all it’s meant to identify individuals who have demonstrated a designated level of competence in their field. It takes knowledge, skill, and experience to successfully complete the examination process for certification. Anyone who has completed this process knows the significant effort that is required.

So why get certified if it isn’t required, universally recognized, and takes significant effort? It’s about value. The benefits of certification are often tangible: increased job satisfaction, enhanced job mobility, increased earning power, and a competitive advantage for advancement or the best employment opportunities. But the benefits don’t stop with the certified individual. They also extend to the employer, ophthalmologists, insurers, and most importantly, our patients and their families. All of these groups benefit from knowing they are dealing with a recognized professional.

Certification also helps establish a professional identity and recognition by your peers. It certainly did that for me. In fact, I worked in the field for nearly ten years before initially pursuing certification. I decided it was time to move on in my career and needed certification to gain access to the best jobs. It worked, as my next employer required the CRA as a condition of employment. But I was pleasantly surprised by the additional benefits that certification provided. Although I was very skilled in the technical aspects of photography and had worked at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, no one outside my place of employment knew my name. That all changed when I obtained my CRA. I suddenly had the respect of my peers and began receiving invitations to play a role in professional activities in the OPS and beyond.  Certification seemed to be “the price of admission” to important networking opportunities that lead to leadership roles in the OPS and JCAHPO. From there came many opportunities to share my knowledge through lectures and publication. And it all started with certification.

But the process doesn’t end when you first receive your credentials. Certification is much more than a one-time achievement. It is a dynamic, career-long commitment to continued education, assessment, and professional development. There is incredible value in attaining, and also maintaining, your certification.

Lecture: Cases That Tell a Story

Timothy J. Bennett, CRA, OCT-C, FOPS.
The 47th OPS Annual Educational Program.

As imagers, we are often called upon to help diagnose rare conditions. Sometimes the stories surrounding these cases are as interesting as the clinical findings we document. This course will present a series of unusual cases using a variety of imaging modalities, including fundus photography, monochromatic photography, SD-OCT, fluorescein angiography, and IR confocal imaging. In each case, imaging played a key role in telling the whole story.


  • List imaging modalities used to document retinal & choroidal disorders.
  • Identify clinical features of unusual retinal and choroidal abnormalities.
  • Discuss the role that multimodality imaging plays in supporting a diagnosis.

Lecture: Clinical Features of Retinal Disease

Timothy J. Bennett, CRA, OCT-C, FOPS and David A Quillen, MD.
The 47th OPS Annual Educational Program.

Fundus photography is commonly used to document clinical features of retinal disease. This collaborative and interactive course will provide an overview of common and distinctive retinal features that photographers should recognize in order to document diseases effectively. After specific findings are presented by a retina specialist, discussion on various ways to document these findings will be led by a photographer. The value of a team approach between physician and photographer will be emphasized.


  • Identify clinical features  of retinal disease.
  • Develop photographic plans to best capture specific retinal pathology.

Moderated Paper Session: Pearls, Tips, &Tactics

Timothy J. Bennett, CRA, OCT-C, FOPS – Moderator.
The 47th OPS Annual Educational Program.

This course will present a series of short tips and strategies for maximizing diagnostic information in a variety of imaging modalities including fluorescein angiography, fundus, photography and OCT. Troubleshooting techniques will be covered. Case-based examples will be given. Audience participation is encouraged and attendees may bring images or short topics for presentation and discussion by the entire group.


  • List tips for improving the quality of color fundus images.
  • Describe a technique for combining OCT images to extend the scanning range.
  • Identify common artifacts in OCT and fundus images.
  • Recognize clinical findings and apply imaging strategies to maximize diagnostic information from commonly performed imaging tests.

Lecture: OCT – Anatomy of a Scan

Timothy J. Bennett, CRA, OCT-C, FOPS.
The 47th OPS Annual Educational Program.

Good communication between imagers and ophthalmologists is helpful in obtaining the best diagnostic images. This course will provide a systematic approach to understanding what we see in retinal OCT images. Armed with this knowledge, we can adapt our scanning strategy when necessary, and communicate important or unexpected findings to the ordering physician. Discussion will include descriptive features such as contour, thickness, reflectivity, and shadowing. Identification of retinal landmarks, common pathologic features, and analysis artifacts will be presented.


  • Identify normal retinal landmarks and common pathologic features.
  • Recognize common scanning and analysis artifacts.
  • Describe abnormal findings based on contour, thickness, reflectivity and shadowing.