Gavin is in his fourth year of ophthalmology training. He studied medicine at Liverpool University.
I chose ophthalmology as a special study module whilst I was in my third year of medical school. I enjoyed the theory behind it and then some practical experience confirmed my interest.
My first ophthalmology training job was an ST1 post in Liverpool. It was a fairly competitive entry process, with about 100 applicants for five posts. My tips for getting a training post would be to get relevant ophthalmology experience as an undergraduate and try to get some articles published in a journal. This puts you one step ahead. It is also worth sitting the undergraduate examination called the Duke Elder prize, run by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. A high rank in this will boost your CV.
In my current position, a typical week includes several specialist clinics. The paediatric squint clinic involves seeing about ten patients under the supervision of a consultant, giving them a refraction (glasses) test, looking at the back of their eyes and then working out a management plan, which might include surgery or further observation. One day is spent in theatre doing supervised cataract operations and injections for macular degeneration in the morning, and in the afternoon, I have my own list, where I work unsupervised but with support not far away if I need it. The oculoplastics clinic (disorders of the eyelids) is followed the next day by oculoplastics theatre where I may operate on some of the same patients, and then see the results of my surgery at a later clinic.
I'm allocated two afternoons a week for study. Currently I work on articles for publications in order to develop my CV but at a later date I could use this time for postgraduate study, such as a research degree or a PhD. One afternoon a week we have a teaching session where one trainee, in partnership with a consultant speaker, presents a case (patient) or topic for discussion.
I'm on call one in every eight weekdays from 5pm until 9am the next morning and one weekend in eight, but being called out at night is fairly rare, so you can go home and get some sleep after about 10pm.
Ophthalmology is a rewarding specialty as you can generally diagnose problems fairly quickly based on your own examinations, rather than having to wait for the results of tests done by someone else. Satisfaction can also come from doing cataract operations, where you can greatly improve the quality of patients' lives.
My current plans for progression are to gain a firmer idea of the sub-specialty I want to pursue and then begin to do some related research.
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