Some people at the skills centre.

Professional Development

Ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals need to ‘wear a variety of different hats’ in our working lives. Alongside our roles as Clinicians, we are called upon to be Trainers, Managers, Leaders and Researchers and need to develop skills in each of these domains.

The RCOphth education programme supports our members and eyecare colleagues to develop clinical knowledge and skills through a multitude of different routes. Eyecare professionals of different types and career stages all care for fundamentally similar groups of patients, and require similar skills, although these may be developed to different levels of complexity.

Find out how we can help you develop your:

The curricula for Undergraduate and Foundation (UG&F) doctors, Ophthalmology Specialist (OST) and Local Trainees (OLT), and Ophthalmic Practitioners (OPT) determine the knowledge and skills to be gained and the level of complexity required.  The RCOphth supports learners in covering the curriculum by providing courses and online learning materials that supplement and complement supervision and experience gained in the workplace.

Simulation can be used to develop a wide range of behavioural, practical and surgical situations. The RCOphth runs courses and wetlabs where a wide variety of surgical skills can be learned and refined.

Clinical Knowledge & Skills

The RCOphth delivers clinical education through the Online Learning Platform. We also run specific courses for Undergraduate and Foundation doctors covering clinical topics useful for all junior doctors and for aspiring ophthalmologists.

Our Seminar program is organised by our Scientific Committee and delivered by experts in the field, usually covering subspecialty-specific topics.  Seminars provide up-to-date information on clinical topics, with the opportunity to hear of new breakthroughs and immerse yourself in a subject of interest. Seminar attendance is capped at a relatively low number of delegates to allow interaction such as discussion of difficult cases or debate about contentious topics.

Surgical Skills

The College’s state of the art Skills Centre hosts a range of basic and advanced courses.  Participants have ample opportunity to try out and practice new skills under supervision using operating microscopes with modern viewing technology.

  •     Introduction to Ophthalmic Surgery Course
  •     Introduction to Phacoemulsification Course
  •     Ocular Trauma Course
  •     Cataract Surgery Complications course.


Practising skills in simulation is an excellent way of trying out new techniques and enhancing performance at no risk to a patient. Effective simulation training can range from low-technology models that can be used at home or in the workplace, to high-tech virtual reality simulators. Every region across the four nations now has at least one virtual reality simulator for cataract and other intraocular surgery, and the College has two such simulators on site.

 The RCOphth education and training teams believe that simulation should be incorporated into all levels of ophthalmic surgical training. For that reason, we have developed a network of Regional Simulation Leads who are able to cascade simulation teaching locally and share ideas about best practice.

Find out more about simulation

Trainer Skills

Most ophthalmologists are involved in training to some degree, whether as supervisors for trainees, peer educators, or teaching of students or allied health professionals. The RCOphth ‘Training the Trainers’ (TTT) program has been well established for many years. 

‘Training the Trainers’ (TTT)

 A range of courses are available to address the needs of trainers at all levels: 

  • TTT for Trainees prepares specialty trainees for their role as educators. 
  • Supervisor Courses are the mainstay of the TTT program, and are aimed at consultants, SAS doctors and senior trainees. 3 separate days cover teaching & learning, supervision skills, and difficult situations in training. A different one of these is also held at the College Annual Congress each year. 
  • TTT for Ophthalmic Practitioner Training (OPT) provides training skills tailored to anyone supporting professionals following the OPT curriculum.
  • Specific courses are also held for College Tutors and Examiners to support those in these roles.

The GMC has defined Standards for Trainers, divided into 7 domains.  All trainers are required by the GMC to have professional development in all seven domains every three years, and this should be recorded in their appraisals for revalidation. The RCOphth TTT courses cover GMC domains and count as educator development towards revalidation.

Advanced Training the Trainers (TTT)

Advanced TTT is held twice a year for the Advanced Trainers and Educators Group, which is open to Regional Education Advisors (REAs), Training Programme Directors (TPDs), Heads of School (HoS), those with a Masters in Education, and others aspiring to taking up those roles shortly.  The content varies each time and includes different new and varied topics, and utilise more peer-to-peer learning, sharing of best practice and development of new ideas or guidance.

Overseas TTT Programme

The Overseas TTT Programme started in 2013 with a Vision 2020 LINKS Partnership between The College, and the College of Ophthalmology of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COECSA).  It has currently trained over 100 Ophthalmologists to Supervisor Level and 30 (three from each of the 10 countries) to Advanced Level, who continue to cascade the programme locally.

Cascading Training the Trainers across Eastern, Central and Southern Africa.

Since 2016 the programme has been extended to Indonesia.

Researcher skills

The College supports the concept of ‘Ophthalmic Research for All’.  It supports NHS ophthalmologists and ophthalmic practitioners in their efforts to improve the outcomes for patients by embedding clinical research into clinical care.

The RCOphth education team partner with the academic sub-committee to highlight existing resources for development as a researcher, and to provide Ophthalmology-specific courses for all career stages. The courses support a range of research involvement from critical analysis of a paper to leading research projects.

Each regional educational team includes a Regional Research Advisor. These are usually experienced researchers who work with other members of their Regional Team to promote education and opportunity in research for the whole ophthalmic workforce in their area. Trainees can also get involved in research through the Ophthalmology Trainee Research Network.

Learn more about ophthalmic research

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

John F. Kennedy

Leadership & Management Skills

Eye health care is delivered in teams, and ophthalmologists often serve as team leaders in clinical, educational, research or management settings. Leadership and teamworking skills are therefore of fundamental importance. Many College courses contain a leadership component.  In addition, there are specific courses, webinars and podcasts which address various aspects of leadership.

 The College has adopted the Medical Leadership Competency Framework produced by the NHS Leadership Academy (NHS Institute of Innovation & Improvement) and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) as a basis for structuring its leadership & management education.  It builds on undergraduate learning outcomes to develop the skills and competencies that prepare trainees for becoming a consultant and beyond.

 Management knowledge and skills are integral parts of our interactive new consultants’ course. Clinical Leads in ophthalmology are supported in development of advanced management skills by peer-to-peer learning, support and discussions.