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FAQs for Trainees during COVID-19

This page will be updated regularly.  If RCOphth trainees have any questions, please contact your representative on the OTG.

Visit the RCOphth COVID-19 pages for regular update on guidance.

What will be the impact of the COVID 19 outbreak on training?
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.

Why have exams been postponed?
The College had to consider the welfare of patients invited up for examinations, particularly ensuring they are not put at risk as many will be form a higher risk demographic, as well as that of trainees and examiners.  The Oral Part 2 FRCOphth was initially cancelled. Working with the Deans from all four nations and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges it became clear that the exams listed below also should be cancelled and currently all Colleges have suspended their exams. It was also felt that in this unusual situation trainees would not be able to prepare for in the normal way so rescheduling later in the year is appropriate.

When will they be rescheduled?
It is currently not possible to give dates. It is likely that they will be rescheduled for the last quarter of the year. As exams like the Oral Part 2 FRCOphth require a lot of organisation to find a setting or department to host them, to recruit patients and examiners they need to be planned for when we believe it will be safe to hold them and trainees will have been able to prepare for them. As soon as possible trainees will be alerted to the rescheduled dates.

How will ARCPs assess progression?
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.

How will trainees be able to get back on track afterwards?
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,


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