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ANZEF Grant Round 2023 Recipient Project

Sponsorship of Pacific Islands participants for microsurgical skills training

Led by A/Prof Graham Wilson, A/Prof Con Petsoglou and Dr Yves Kerdraon, with the training run and administered by The University of Sydney – AU$12,000

Gone are the days of surgical “see one, do one, teach one” due to growing concerns for patient safety. Ophthalmic trainees now need to be well prepared before they first undertake microsurgery on the eyes of patients. The Microsurgical Skills Course has been running at the Sight for Life Foundation Training Lab at Sydney Eye Hospital since 2018 and emulates the highly regarded microsurgical skills course established in the 1990s by Larry Benjamin and Nigel Cox for The Royal College of Ophthalmologists in the UK.

The Sydney-based course – which recently celebrated its tenth time running in September 2023 – was established by A/Prof Graham Wilson from The University of Otago and is expertly run and administered by The University of Sydney’s Save Sight Institute. A/Prof Wilson (NZ) along with A/Prof Con Petsoglou and Dr Yves Kerdraon (both Sydney-based) are the course directors and there are over 15 RANZCO Fellows from Australia and New Zealand on the teaching faculty.

A/Prof Graham Wilson supervising course participant, Dr Alex Vittorio from Queensland (Image courtesy of Save Sight Institute – photo credit Nicola Bailey)

Microsurgical Skills Course participants practice suturing on a surgical skills board (Image courtesy of Save Sight Institute – photo credit Nicola Bailey)

Participants in this three-day course are trained in the use of the operating microscope, handling microsurgical instruments, suturing (on surgical skills boards, pigs’ eyes and human cadavers) and surgical ergonomics. They have EyeSi surgical simulator time, and practice surgical draping, sterilisation and operations (mainly corneal perforation repair, eyelid minor operations and strabismus).

As of 2023, RANZCO is directing all first-year vocational trainee registrars to attend. Ophthalmic trainees in the Pacific Islands, however, have limited access to such a unique surgical training opportunity. To facilitate ophthalmic surgical training for colleagues in the Pacific and enhance surgical outcomes for Pacific Islanders, this grant will enable two Pacific Island junior doctors to travel to Sydney to complete the course. The aim of this opportunity is to contribute to ophthalmic skills development that will translate directly into improved eye care in the Pacific.