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COVID-19 and Trainee Progression

We know that at this time the uncertainties around work, training and examinations are causing anxiety.

Trainees’ welfare is of utmost importance to the The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and we hope that the following provides clarity and will allow you to plan for the coming months to years. Given the rapidly changing nature of things, however, even this advice may need to change.

Look after your wellbeing

Training during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes in learning opportunities for trainee ophthalmologists both in terms of experiences and in assessments, particularly where elective surgery or outpatient reviews are cancelled. The College recognises this and that trainees are concerned that this will have an impact on their progression through training.

General training information

Taking examinations during COVID-19

The pandemic has affected the workplace and our personal lives. Measures, such as social distancing, are impacting on the way the College operates, and the examinations that it provides.

In order to continue to deliver examinations during this time, we have been forced to modify some of the examination processes. The decisions we have taken are designed to support trainee ophthalmologists’ progress and to reduce disruption as far as is practically possible.

General exams information

Restoration, transformation and training

As we receive further information from the regulator (GMC), Deans and the Statutory Education Bodies of all four nations, we will send further updates. Otherwise please regularly check the COVID-19 website page for updates.

As the medical profession comes under increasing pressure due to the pandemic, we need to support each other where we can. Importantly, please ensure that you continue to look after your own health and wellbeing.

Trainees’ welfare is of utmost importance to the College and we hope that the following provides clarity and will allow you to plan for the coming months to years. Given the changing nature of things, however, even this advice may need to change.

FAQs for Trainees during COVID-19

If RCOphth trainees have any questions, please contact your representative on the OTG.

As routine work is suspended during the pandemic trainees will undoubtedly have less opportunities to complete annually required competencies. For example, this may mean not having undertaken the required 50 cataract operations by the end of ST2 or completing OSATS in cataract surgery at any stage/year of training. Trainees may need to be redeployed within their hospitals and spend a period of time outside of Ophthalmology. All Ophthalmology exams have been cancelled up to September 2020.

As trainees return to normal work after the pandemic they will be able to make plans to catch up on their curricular requirements. Many trainees will be able to catch up within the normal training envelope. Some trainees may require additional support or time and this will be looked at individually. As these are unprecedented times trainees will also be acquiring other skills, not least in teamwork and leadership, which will be invaluable to them as future consultants running their services,

As examinations are postponed some trainees may not have passed exams which are a way point for progression, such as the Part 1 being required to enter ST3 and the Refraction certificate for ST4. The GMC and Deans have confirmed that they will be allowed to progress providing up to that point they have been showing that their training has been on track. They will however be expected to show that they have passed the exam at the next ARCP.  The Deans will provide further details of how ARCPs may be undertaken, or whether some will be delayed, and how trainees will be assessed. They are sensitive to the fact that many trainees will have had a very different experience during the pandemic.

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Eye to Eye Podcast: COVID 19 and the impact on trainees

In the latest episode of Eye to Eye, Miss Fiona Spencer, Chair of the Training Committee spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Ophthalmology and Ophthalmologists in training.

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Eye to Eye Podcast: The true impact of COVID-19 on Ophthalmologists in Training

In this episode we hear from Mariantonia Ferrara a Medical and Surgical Retina Fellow from Newcastle and Kerr Brogan, a Glaucoma Fellow from Glasgow, about the results from surveys that they conducted during the pandemic that investigated the impact of COVID-19 on Ophthalmologists in Training.

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Ophthalmology requires a unique combination medical and surgical skills that can only be developed through our robust training programs.

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