Ophthalmology provides a great deal of variety by combining medicine, surgery & A&E. It is predominantly an outpatient specialty with plenty of opportunities to subspecialise. Competition for posts, however, can be quite fierce and hence a strong portfolio may be necessary to secure your place.
Ophthalmology involves intricate microsurgery that can often provide almost instant gratification; one of the most commonly performed is the cataract operation. There are ample opportunities to work abroad and to make a real difference in terms of global health. In addition, Ophthalmology involves the use of a variety of instruments, including microscopes, lasers, cameras and more, making outpatient clinics much more active, interesting and enjoyable, compared to other specialties. It is a specialty that is at the forefront of medical research, innovation and technology, and there are countless opportunities to get involved with research. There is a multitude of sub-specialties to cater for everyone, so you can really tailor your career to suit your own skills and interests (e.g. Cornea, Retina, Paediatrics, Neuro-Ophthalmology).
One of the most important reasons to choose this specialty is that Ophthalmologists are notoriously happy, fulfilled and all-round nice people, who tend to have a relatively good work-life balance; what more could you want?!
What is the training programme like?
The training programme is 7 years long and is run-through after FY2 (i.e. it is not necessary to complete core surgical or medical training prior to specialising).
A day in the life of an Ophthalmologist…
The day-to-day life of an Ophthalmologist involves a mixture of outpatient clinics, eye casualty clerking shifts and surgical theatre lists. In addition, many Ophthalmologists are involved in teaching (at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level), as well as research projects and private work.
How do I apply?
Ophthalmology truly is a fantastic specialty and, therefore, the recruitment process can be quite competitive. Once you’ve identified that you might be interested in a career in Ophthalmology, it’s important to seek out further experiences and to start accruing those vital points for your application, as soon as possible! Luckily, there are lots of things you can do, no matter what stage of your training you are at.
This article outlines the application process, including a brief timeline and how to best prepare for each section.
Timeline for applications
|November||Applications open on Oriel (the same website you will have used for F1/F2)|
|December||Bookings for the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) open|
|Late January||Invitation to interview|
|A few days post-interview||Submission of job preferences|
|End of February||Offers|
This part of the application is fairly straightforward; you simply enter your details into the online application form, ensuring you meet the Person Specification, which includes:
- MBBS or equivalent medical qualification
- GMC licence to practise
- Completed (or due to complete) Foundation Training within 3.5 years of the start date
- Eligible to work in the UK
- 18 months or less experience in Ophthalmology by the time of interview date
Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA)
If you meet the eligibility criteria (as described above), you will be asked to book an MSRA slot. This is an online exam that can be taken at a variety of Pearson Vue Computer Testing Centres, throughout the UK. You can take the test at any time within a 2 week period, but the booking process is first come first served, so the sooner you book, the more likely you are to get your preferred test time and location. You must reach a predefined score in order to obtain an interview, and your MSRA score will count towards your final application score (you can score a maximum of 40 points on the MSRA, out of a potential total application score of 300).
The test is split into 2 sections:
All interviews are held on the same day, in the same location in Bristol. To prepare, it is best to view the interview like an exam and practise/revise for each section, for 2-3 months prior. On arrival, you will be asked to hand over your paper portfolio for the portfolio review station (further details below). You will then be given a 40 minute preparation period. During this time, you will have a number of scenarios to read and a published paper to review.
The interview consists of 5 key sections:
Written by Dr Alice Bellchambers (FY2)
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