The West Midlands has one of the largest training programmes in Ophthalmology. The training programme has posts in hospitals in Birmingham, Burton, Coventry, Dudley, Hereford, Sandwell, Shrewsbury, Stoke-on- Trent and Wolverhampton. Ophthalmology is the medical and surgical management of all ocular diseases and related conditions. There are wide choices for subspecialisations. A new specialty of purely Medical Ophthalmology (omitting surgical skill) is now developing.

How do I become an ophthalmologist?

Training in medicine has undergone significant changes following the introduction of Modernising Medical Careers (MMC). It is likely to continue to change as MMC develops.

Outline of Specialist Training 

Following the two foundation years doctors apply for specialist training; in ophthalmology this normally lasts 7 years, is competence based and leads to a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). The essential, or core, requirements are described by a series of nested learning outcomes. These are derived from a description of what consultant ophthalmologists, as health care professionals in the UK, are able to do and how they approach their practice. During the first two years the trainee should acquire the general clinical skills of an ophthalmologist, and have a basic knowledge of the conditions covered by the specialty. As well as general and specialist clinics and ophthalmic casualty work the trainee will attend two theatre sessions per week. During these sessions he/she should master the commonly performed procedures, and assist at more complex operations. Trainees may want to become involved in clinical research projects.

As trainees become more senior the depth of their knowledge increases and they learn specialist surgical and clinical skills according to a curriculum set by the College. More time is spent in both general and specialist clinics, with an average of two to three theatre and laser sessions per week. Regular assessment of trainees’ progress is undertaken throughout the training. These include Case-based Discussions (CbD), Direct Observation of Procedural Skills (DOPS), Objective Assessment of Surgical and Technical Skills (OSATS). There is also an annual assessment panel to ensure that trainees are progressing as expected.

Becoming an Academic Ophthalmologist 

A clinical academic training pathway has been established through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in the form of Academic Clinical Fellowships (ACF) and Clinical Lecturerships (CL). ACFs are usually at ST1-3 level and provide a clinical and academic training environment to prepare an application for a Training Fellowship leading to a PhD (or equivalent). CLs are aimed at trainees who are advanced in their specialty training, have completed a research doctorate or equivalent and who show outstanding potential for continuing a career in academic medicine.

Ophthalmic Trainees Group 

Trainees are represented by the Ophthalmic Trainees’ Group (OTG); members sit on RCOphth committees to represent trainees’ views. The group also organises meetings for trainees and acts as a forum to allow discussion of common problems that arise during training.

Flexible Training 

Trainees unable to work full-time for personal reasons may undertake an equivalent training programme, but over a longer period. Local arrangements are made through the Regional Postgraduate Dean.