The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) has chosen Trinidad and Tobago as an exam location for the 2022 RCOphth Refraction Certificate and 2022 Part 2 of the Fellow RCOphth Oral examinations.
The exams were hosted by the Ophthalmological Society of Trinidad and Tobago and the Trinidad Eye Hospital, facilitated by the RCOphth. The exams were held from March 15-18 and were the first of their kind to be held in TT.
Speaking on behalf of the TT Eye Hospital, public relations officer and examiner Dr Ronnie Bhola said, "Typically candidates wishing to sit the examinations would have to travel to the UK. We have taken note of how many candidates have been trying to access qualifications from TT and the region, and so we saw it fit to host the examinations locally."
Senior examiner Dr Steve Winder of the RCOphth said, "We noted quite a number of people coming from TT and the Caribbean to do the exams and many trainees in the UK...also wish to do the exams, so we do have a backlog. Our hope is to reduce the travelling of the people of the Caribbean by coming (here) to do the exams instead.
"The demand for eye surgeons has risen across the world, which has put pressure on us to do what we can and get more candidates through."
Winder said the RCOphth also goes to Singapore and India.
Bhloa told the Newsday the Trinidad Eye Hospital has three candidates sitting the oral examination, which takes place over two days. Three candidates sat the refraction examination on Tuesday.
He said, "The feedback from the candidates, from a local perspective, is that the RCOphth coming here has made the examinations much more accessible and affordable.
"These are two challenges that really stop people from wanting to come into ophthalmology to start with, because they have to travel just to prepare and sit the examinations. Having the exams held here in TT allows the candidates to sit the exams much earlier than they would have if they had to go abroad to do it."
Asked how often the examinations will be held, he said, "This is the first sitting that we have had, but what we want to do is create a situation where we have enough candidates to justify to the RCOphth that we should have these exams here twice a year."
Bhola said he wants to have discussions with the RCO on the next possible date for exams.
On extending the invitation to the region, he said, "We expect when the programme gets more known throughout the region we will get a lot of people, as there is no programme within the islands for training."
Consultant Dr Vineeth Kumar said, "The RCOphth exams are considered a quite a good standard, which allows us to ensure that our next generation of ophthalmologists are trained and evaluated to that standard. Once we are assured that they are at a good level of knowledge of ophthalmology, the patients of TT will benefit, and that's the most important part of why we are participating with these exams."