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  • What’s New in Surgical Training in Europe

    In the 2022 YO Info International Edition, we heard from our YO colleagues from the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE), Miguel Gonzalez Andrades, MD, and Marie Louise Roed Rasmussen, MD, PhD, who focused on diversity for young ophthalmologists (YOs) in ophthalmic training across Europe and the need to harmonize curricula to offer the best patient care and to facilitate professional and scientific collaboration between countries.

    This year, two important articles in the British journal Eye in March and October 2023 echoed the need to introduce and implement new residency programs, especially focusing on surgical training. In some European countries we’ve begun discussing the need among ourselves. 

    Some YOs in Europe are content with the clinical knowledge and competencies they obtained during residency. But there are still significant disparities in:

    • Length of residency. It ranges from two years to seven years in some countries. 
    • Differences in a mandatory final exam to be certified to practice as a specialist in ophthalmology.
    • Surgical training during residency. Many get no surgical training, not even the chance for an eyelid laceration repair. Others are trained to perform basic cataract surgery. 

    While waiting for standardized residency training with an official program common to all European countries, YOs in Europe are exploring other avenues to improve their education and basic surgical skills. 

    Some overcome the gap in surgical training by participating in wet labs, dry labs and, in some countries, surgical training on simulators. The frequency of these courses varies greatly from country to country. In several countries, mandatory training is organized by universities and free of charge for YOs. 

    However, in the majority of countries, courses are organized by pharmaceutical companies during meetings. There are also courses that residents must pay for and with limits on the number of participants. 

    In the search for the best education, YOs in Europe participate more and more in international exams. The European Board of Ophthalmology (EBO) organizes quality examinations twice a year, evaluating clinical knowledge and clinical skills, held in spring and autumn. 

    After the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization changed from an in-person to an online exam. For 2024, the EBO announced the spring exam as in-person and the autumn exam online. In the spring of 2023, attendees had the opportunity for the first time to participate in a one-day preparation workshop for the EBO exam. The audience was grateful to the EBO organizers for this opportunity, but the exam is mandatory for only a couple of countries in Europe. We need a standardized European exam for ALL of the countries. 

    Live Interaction

    The best education is always obtained during live discussions, and the best and the most open discussions are between YOs who are keen for new knowledge and new clinical and surgical experiences. 

    Under the SOE YO , the first European Meeting of Young Ophthalmologists (EMYO) was organized in 2014 and dedicated to ocular surgery for beginners. Since then, EMYO has become a biennial tradition, the meeting is well-attended and covers hot topics and burning cases for YOs. The next and fifth EMYO will take place in Venice in summer 2024. The scientific program will be announced by the end of the year. 

    Further Resources

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    Headshot of Jelena Potic, MD, PhD, FEBO About the author: Jelena Potic, MD, PhD, FEBO, is the current chair of SOE-YO (European Society of Ophthalmology Young Ophthalmologists) and a member of the Academy’s YO International Subcommittee. She is a vitreoretinal surgeon at the Clinic for Eye Diseases, Clinical Center of Serbia, University of Belgrade, Serbia, and at the Jules-Gonin Eye Hospital, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Dr. Potic is also an assistant professor at the University of Belgrade, Serbia. Working always in the best for YOs, Dr Potic founded YOs for YOs educational seminars in Serbia. She also received many awards such as the Junior Clinical Scientist award from Fondation Leenaards and Prix Claire and Selma Kattenburg 2023 and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She was a participant in the Academy’s Leadership Development Program XXII, Class of 2020.