SOE YOs aim to explore the diversity and differences in clinical training among our YOs across Europe.
Originally from Albania, Olta Gishti MD, PhD is currently a 2 nd -year resident at the renowned Het Oogziekenhuis Rotterdam (Rotterdam Eye Hospital). In this issue, she talks about her residency training in the Netherlands with our new subcommittee member Lana Datuashvili.
Where I am: the Netherlands
The Netherlands is the country of the tulips and cheese! A beautiful country, even though the weather is not so beautiful… Importantly, the Netherlands has a really good health system!
Ophthalmology training in the Netherlands
Our residency training is 5 years long. There are 8 academic centers responsible for ophthalmology specialty training, and my residency program is situated at the Rotterdam Eye Hospital, the largest program in the country. In total, there are 25 residents, 5 residents in each year of residency training. As residents, we have a structured education with our training organized into different 4-month long rotations. We start with emergency department, followed by medical retina, paediatric and neuro- ophthalmology, vitreo-retinal surgery, etc. Clinical training aside, as residents we are expected to conduct clinical research, present interesting patients that we came across in the clinic, and discuss peer-reviewed articles in journal clubs. Clinical case presentations take place weekly where our seniors are present to lead the discussion. Furthermore, once in a month we receive lectures from a consultant ophthalmologist or other medical specialist.
In the Netherlands all residents receive surgical training. We are expected to be competent in performing cataract surgeries independently at the end of our residency. As such, we spent on
average 12-16 months on cataract surgery training alone. We are also expected to operate on about 30 cases of strabismus at the end of the pediatric ophthalmology rotation. Moreover, we assist in different subspecialty surgeries, including vitreo-retinal, glaucoma and corneal procedures. However, to be able to work as subspecialists in these fields, further fellowship training is necessary, the duration of which can be from 6-12 months. To graduate, we are obliged to pass formal assessments each year of our residency on the topics detailed in the AAO BCSC series. Although it is not mandatory for us to obtain EBO certification, most of us would.
A typical day at work Usually we start at 8 am with a short meeting with our supervisors and colleagues to discuss the patients who presented to our unit overnight, as well as the challenging and interesting cases. At 8:30 am we start working with the patient. Because of our rotation system, we can anticipate the kind of pathologies we will see that day. For example, as I am in my paediatric ophthalmology rotation, I know that I need to get ready to interact with children up to the age of 14, but of course, there are exceptions. Usually our working day finishes at 5pm, and 2 to 3 times a month we have to do nightshifts.
How did you get into ophthalmology?
I became interested in ophthalmology because it is a field where a doctor has to perfectly combine clinical and surgical skills. For me, it is also a very gratifying specialty because most of the times patients can literally see the results of your treatment shortly afterwards. Of course, there are times when this is not the case, even despite your best effort there are challenging pathologies which defy any treatment, but thankfully this is an uncommon entity in ophthalmology.
What are your future aspirations?
I like surgery a lot, but I am not sure yet in which direction I will go. Up to now I think vitreo-retinal surgery will be my future direction, but the other subspecialties are also not totally excluded. I also like clinical research, and even though residency is busy I remain actively engaged in my research. I see my future as a dedicated ophthalmologist and clinical researcher in ophthalmology.