Doctors of colour disproportionately face systemic barriers to success in training. A recent article published in “Eye” on the ‘Lived experiences of UK Black Ophthalmology Trainees in the NHS’, reports on the impact of racism on trainee wellbeing and the trickled down effects onto patient care. Reports published by the GMC have found a statistically significant difference in outcomes based on race with 72% of white UK graduates passing FRCOphth exams on their first attempt compared with 60% of UK Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) graduates. For International BAME graduates, this is only 50% (“GMC Progression report,”). This highlights the systematic differences in outcomes of BAME doctors otherwise known as differential attainment. We felt that a lack of lived experience of the determinants of differential attainment, amongst our educational leaders, might hinder provision of equitable training.
Following a successful pilot of a ‘Reverse mentoring program on lived experiences due to race’ conducted by Health Education England where trainees were paired with Deans and Heads of School in Yorkshire and Humber, we proposed a similar scheme to the executive committee of the RCOphth. The committee were immediately interested in working towards empowering ethnic minority Ophthalmic colleagues/community to overcome the perceived barriers that contribute towards differential attainment.
Although the membership of the RCOphth is more diverse than certain other Colleges, there is still work to be done to improve representation within certain groups (eg Black doctors) and integration within the workplace. The latter has to do with inclusion whereby differences are celebrated and there is a culture of all members being valued. This in turn has been shown to lead to better career opportunities, strong psychological safety and in turn, better patient outcomes.
We implemented a reverse mentoring pilot scheme lasting six months in early 2022. This paired doctors from an ethnically diverse background with six of our educational leaders (President, Vice president, two executive committee members and two examiners). Reverse mentoring inverts the classical mentor-mentee hierarchy, with a junior team member supporting the development of their senior colleague within a specific area of expertise. Both British and International graduates participated as reverse mentors.
Read the full report here: RCOphth RM report