Ken was one of our many subscribers last year who successfully landed their dream jobs in ophthalmology and he kindly agreed to impart some tips and advice to this year’s applicants.
Did you have any formal experience of ophthalmology before applying the first time?
No formal experience in clinical ophthalmology. I did an SSC in ophthalmology and a 6 weeks elective placement in Malaysia in the University of Malaya Kuala-lumpur. That was really good. But no formal foundation jobs in ophthalmology or anything.
Do you think formal experience in a foundation job is an important thing to have for ophthalmology?
So when I was practicing for interviews, one of my friends had done an F2 job in ophthalmology. I think his knowledge base going into the interview was quite good. Not necessarily clinical knowledge but also non-clinical knowledge like the services available to patients and other members of the ophthalmic MDT which is something you can weave into the interview and show a deeper understanding of ophthalmology.
What did you find most surprising about the interview?
My main surprise was I thought I did quite badly in terms of clinical knowledge, however looking back at the mark scheme, whilst they do care about the clinical knowledge and being a safe ST1, I think a lot of the points come from the actual communications skills. So I think in my station, it was a clinical station, but the patient, I think, was quite worried and you had to take a moment to address that to make sure the patient was comfortable and that helped in my case. So I think it was quite a big surprise that it wasn’t heavily clinical based.
Did you use any other resources to prepare for interview?
For the Interview I used 2 resources. I went on an interview course and I signed up for the STinterview question bank and mock interview. Both provided practice interviews but ST interview was very interactive which I really enjoyed. I also really enjoyed the clinical scenarios and the fact that it was written in a question and answer format so you’re almost simulating an interview question in your head whilst going through the stations and you can say the answers out loud and then check the answers. So it works really well both with other people in the mock interviews, which adds a bit of pressure but also works very well for practice on your own.
Do you have any tips for the MSRA?
I think SJT there’s not a huge amount you can do. You can do practice for timing but I think you can over-practice and become a bit formulaic and, particularly people who make flow charts on decision making. You can overthink things and people who do that seem to do quite badly. You can definitely prepare for the clinical though and do well.
Any tips on preparing for the portfolio?
So definitely know the portfolio breakdown back to front. I don’t think they would have released this year’s one yet but once it’s out know it back to front. There are definitely some points that are easier to score than others. Speak to trainess really helps and you should try to come up with a game plan to maximise your points in the coming months.Don’t get too bogged down by the portfolio though and don’t reject things cause they don’t give you points because these events can be a great way to network with other people and indirectly get you points.
Are you currently enjoying your job?
Very much, I honestly go into work every day and I learn so much. I’m also very happy going in every day which certainly wasn’t the case for foundation years for me personally. So overall definitely very very happy doing ST1 ophthalmology. Particularly at my hospital everyone is very supportive and they know most ST1s haven’t done any ophthalmology so they take that into account and spend lots of time teaching you. So yeah Im having a really good time at the moment.