Dr Mahmoud Ahmed
ST3, North West Deanery – Manchester, currently at Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Ophthalmology provides a good mix of medical and surgical conditions. The main workload is clinic based, with patients rarely requiring hospital admission.
Theatre is essential and Ophthalmology demands excellent hand eye coordination and fine skills. All Ophthalmologists have to be excellent at cataract surgery with a minimum requirement of 50 cases/year for trainees and 100 cases/year for consultants. Different subspecialties have different procedures.
Laser sessions are carried out on an outpatient basis. Consultants do not routinely perform any laser procedures.
Run through training from ST1 to ST7
Alternative pathway from ST3 to ST7
LATs only available in Wales and Scotland (only few posts)
National application through Oriel
There are Ophthalmology specific interview preparation courses for ST1 and 3. Book these well in advance as they are few and in demand
General interview courses such as ISC Medical are totally useless as they focus on portfolio and motivation questions which you will not be asked on.
Application: November / December
Application: February / March
Please refer to the College website for the full person specification but important points include:
- ST1 applicants must have 18 months or less experience in Ophthalmology (not including attachments and foundation)
- Advance life support (ALS) is necessary
- ST3 applicants must have at least 24 months’ experience in Ophthalmology
- ST3 applicants must have a certificate of achievement of ST1 & ST2 competences
The portfolio is assessed in an objective manner. There is no portfolio station so you will not be able to explain or highlight anything on your portfolio. Thus, make sure your portfolio is self-explanatory
It is important to show commitment in all areas of the portfolio.
Research is much liked so try to get published as much as possible.
For ST1, the microsurgical skills course is important while for ST3, a minimum of 100 cataracts should be your target.
For education, attend the training the trainer course (preferably at the college). Also, arrange and provide teaching sessions to A&E, GP and Optometry staff (e.g. red eye, eye emergencies etc.)
This is the scoring system used for portfolios at the ST3 interview
|Qualifications||Prizes & Awards||Other Qualifications||Clinical Skills & Experience||Surgical & Laser Skills|
|Max 6||Max 4||Max 4||Max 6||Max 6|
|Multi Source Feedback||Publications||QI/Audit||Presentations||Education & Teaching||Global Quality|
|Max 4||Max 5||Max 5||Max 5||Max 5||Max 5|
For ST1 interviews, no Ophthalmology experience is necessary so expect questions around any specialty. ST3 interviews are focused on Ophthalmology.
The interview process is very organized.
On arrival, your portfolio is taken from you for marking. You will get it back at the end of your interview.
Next is a 40 minutes preparation stage. You and a few others will be taken to a room where you will be given the interview scenarios and an article.
There are 4 stations divided on 2 rooms each with 2 examiners:
ST1 4.3 per post 83 posts (2015 figures)
ST3 3.2 per post 11 posts (2016 figures)
Due to the high competition ratio, there is no Round 2. All posts are filled in ‘Round 1’
To be continued.
The Royal College London no longer recognizes certificates such as the FRCS (Glasgow), FRCSEd (Edinburgh) and the ICO exams
The Royal College provides detailed information packs for all exams. Please refer to these for more information.
Microsurgical Skills Course:
Essential 3-day course to be able to start cataract surgery and show commitment to Ophthalmology. Run by the Royal College frequently but always in demand so book early to avoid delays (up to 10 months!). Fee £675.00
To be continued.
National Training survey 2015: Overall Satisfaction
|Kent, Surrey and Sussex||86|
|East of England||85|
Ophthalmology is one of the most rewarding specialities financially.
Dual Sponsorship scheme
- This helps undertake targeted training in a suitable training post in the UK. Limited to 12 months with a possible maximum extension of 3 to 12 months under exceptional circumstances. Sponsored by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
- The trainee is responsible for arranging a recommendation from an overseas sponsor known personally to the UK consultant who is recommending the trainee for sponsorship.
- Getting a training post in Ophthalmology is difficult as it is highly competitive due to lifestyle and financial factors. There is also a relatively low number of posts on offer.
- A good plan would be to follow the College curriculum for trainees at every stage and achieve the required competencies with the main aim of applying for ST3 training and, if unsuccessful, then CESR (Article 14) certificate. There is less competition at the ST3 stage compared to ST1 as fewer candidates have the necessary criteria.
- It is essential to work in a supportive and helpful unit where there is good surgical exposure. Even then, you will have to stand firm and defend your right to be trained. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and demand more training or a rotation in different subspecialties. It is difficult to find a competent and well-trained trust/staff grade and you should use that to your advantage.
- The University Hospital Southampton provides a CESR training programme where trainees rotate in various departments and are given opportunities to achieve the required competencies to apply through the CESR route. This is a new and promising programme and jobs are usually advertised in May/June.
- The CESR pathway is becoming more and more accessible and straight forward. It remains a viable option to work for. The Royal College runs a good course to guide CESR applicants.
- Royal College of Ophthalmologists: www.rcophth.ac.uk
- RCOphth Study Guide: www.curriculum.rcophth.ac.uk/study-guide/ ( Your extensive reference to the required competencies)
- Eye Logbook: www.eyelogbook.co.uk/ (Essential surgical and laser logbook. Ask for access from the Royal College)
- Eyedocs: www.eyedocs.co.uk (Good website with question banks for Parts 1 & 2. Details of courses and events available)
- Choosing a Deanery Blogpost: www.st1ophthalmology.blogspot.com (Useful information on the application process and various deaneries)