Ophthalmology is a relatively competitive specialty amongst doctors and for good reasons! It offers a
good mixture of both medicine and surgery, and in general the career gives you a lot of satisfaction.
If you are reading this article, I assume that you have an interest in Ophthalmology already and are
here for an overview of the application process. If you would like to find out more about this
fascinating field and what life is like being an Ophthalmologist, then I would suggest that you follow
the following link to read more on the Royal College of Ophthalmologists website
(https://www.rcophth.ac.uk/our-work/ophthalmology-careers/become-an-ophthalmologist/).


Here I will be giving a brief overview of the application for Ophthalmology, true for the 2022 entry.
The application process had changed slightly since the COVID-19 pandemic therefore in this article, I
am only discussing the way that it has been done over the past two years. I am uncertain as to what
method they have decided to use for the next entry (2023) therefore please check their
announcements closer to the time of application.


Firstly, register and apply for Ophthalmology Specialty Training (OST) on Oriel, the national platform
for applying to multiple specialties. It usually opens in November and you are provided with a
window of dates during which you can complete your registration. This part asks for generic
information such as your medical qualifications, General Medical Council (GMC) license to practise,
eligibility to work in the UK and more.


Once your registration form on Oriel has been checked and you meet the eligibility criteria to apply
for Ophthalmology, then in December you will be prompted to book a slot to sit the Multi-Specialty
Recruitment Assessment (MSRA). This is an online examination that must be taken at a Pearson Vue
Computer Testing Centre, which are located throughout the UK, within a specified window period.
The MSRA has been used by various specialties to aid their selection of candidates for example,
radiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, psychiatry and general practice, just to name a few. The
examination slots are allocated on a first come first serve basis, therefore the sooner you can book,
the better it is as it is more likely that you will be able to choose a location and time best suited to
you. Some of my colleagues have had to travel far for their assessments which was not ideal! For the
purpose of OST application, there is a cut off score that you must obtain in the MSRA to be offered
an interview. This score will also count towards a portion of your final total application score so
consider spending a good chunk of your time revising for this exam.


Later, your MSRA score will be published on Oriel and you will find out if you have managed to
secure an interview or not. If you have gotten an interview, you will be asked to upload your
portfolio online. The details of the evidence folder can be found on the Severn deanery website and
is broadly split into the following categories:


• Lists of previous posts
• Qualifications (with certificates or letter of proof)
• Prizes/awards (with proof)
• Ophthalmology specialty links and commitment to date as a career

• Multi-source feedback
• Publications
• Quality improvement/audit projects
• Presentations
• Education and Teaching
• Overall portfolio layout and quality


As a word of advice, I would recommend collating of the evidence for your portfolio early, preferably
by December (latest January), because sometimes there are delays in getting a response and if you
don’t have any evidence to support your point, you might not be given it which would be a huge
shame! Don’t forget that your portfolio also contributes to a significant part of your final application
score, so try to bag as many points here as possible.


Regarding interviews, they are all held on the same day, usually some point between February to
March. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the interviews have been held online, and typically have
consisted of a patient consultation and you do not see the examiner. To prepare for this, I would
advise that you find a group of other OST applicants to practise with, and there are some online
resources available to use for your interview preparation sessions.


The above was a very brief run-through of the application process to Ophthalmology and I hope that
it’s given you an idea of what to expect. For more information, I’d recommend that you speak to
current Ophthalmology trainees and to do further research yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t get in
the first time and if it’s definitely what you want to do then just try again. I wish you the best of luck!

Article written by Dr. Sammie Mak
28/06/2022