Basic Training in Surgical Ophthalmology


Basic Training in Surgical Ophthalmology is the entry route to Higher Specialist Training in Surgical Ophthalmology in Ireland.

The purpose of the basic foundation years is to provide a broad based initial training in ophthalmology with attainment of knowledge skills and professional behaviours relevant to the practice of ophthalmology in any specialist discipline. Following successful completion of Basic Surgical Training (requires passing the MRCSI exam) and depending on career preference and ability, candidates can compete to enter Higher Specialist Training in Surgical Ophthalmology.

Download ICO BST Trainee Guide 2019

Entry to the programme is by annual competitive interview run by the Irish College of Ophthalmologists. Available posts are advertised via this website in November/December of each year.

To apply for the Basic Training Program a trainee needs to be registered with the Medical Council of Ireland and eligible for trainee specialist registration.

Successful candidates are appointed to the training programme for a three year period. Trainees rotate around the clinical training sites and contracts of employment are issued by the relevant hospitals.

Entry on to the Program is by competitive interview held at the Irish College of Ophthalmologists.  Consideration is given to an honours medical degree, prizes /medals (see below) achieved during undergraduate years, postgraduate degrees and presentations, research and /or publications.  Personal and professional attributes such as, ability to work as a team, communications skills and personal motivation are also important. 

Any interested graduate can contact Rebecca Martin, Training Programme Manager at who can put you in touch with the Dean of Postgraduate Education or other Eye Doctors working throughout the country, whose team, either junior or senior, would be happy to talk to you about a career in Ophthalmology. 

Applications for Basic Training in Surgical Ophthalmology are open, please see below for the application form

*NB a candidate can apply on two occasions only for the national training programme. A third attempt will not be considered.

Basic Training in Surgical Ophthalmology

The purpose of the foundation years of surgical ophthalmology training is to provide a broad based initial training in ophthalmology with attainment of knowledge skills and professional behaviours relevant to the practice of ophthalmology in any specialist discipline. Following successful completion of Basic Training in Surgical Ophthalmology (requires passing the MRCSI exam) and depending on career preference and ability, candidates can compete to enter Higher Specialist Training in Surgical Ophthalmology. 

Basic Training is based on a clearly defined curriculum which sets out:

  • Training structure and pathway
  • Educational content
  • Assessment and appraisal processes
  • Examination format and regulations
  • Counselling and support arrangements
  • Core Training in Ophthalmology introduces trainees to the specialty of ophthalmology and ophthalmic surgery and to the care and management of the ophthalmic patient;
  • Principles of assessment and investigation of the surgical patient (elective / emergency)
  • Pre-operative preparation, peri-operative management and postoperative care of the surgical patient.
  • Principles of operative surgery and theatre etiquette.
  • Surgical and multidisciplinary team working
  • Professional behaviour/ethical practice
  • Pattern of life long learning

There are clearly defined competencies which must be achieved in order to progress to the next phase of training. This curriculum defines the principles and practice of Basic Training.

Download the curriculum (PDF Document)

All trainees must keep a record of their surgical and clinical procedures. eLogbook is an online system which facilitates doctors to keep a complete record of procedures performed. 

Ophthalmology Trainees use an eLogbook.
Further information and to register for an online account is available at

Trainees undergo CAPA appraisal every six months in the Irish College of Ophthalmologists. Trainees must submit two weeks in advance of their assessments the following documentation:

  1. BST CAPA A Form 
  2. BST Consultant Trainers Report Form
  3. Workplace Based Assessments - See SCHOOL for Surgeons website for ST1, 2 and 3 relevant WBA forms 

Training Performance Management 


Progression from Basic Training BST1-3 into to Higher Specialist Surgical Training for those who commenced from July 2015 onwards will in part be based upon performance in Basic Surgical Training. The attached document provides details on what aspects of the training programme will be scored. Please be advised that the scorecard may under-go minor modifications throughout 2018.

The ICO will consider applications for out of programme experience (OPE). The application for OPE must be made to the Dean of Post Graduate Education. Applications for OPE must be made 6 months in advance of the expected start date. OPE activities which further your training programme must be approved by the Dean. Advice can be sought from research supervisors, educational supervisors or the Training Director as necessary. You must complete all documentation recording out of programme progress in the grade to ensure that the Dean is aware of your location and intentions when you are undertaking research or other recognised activities outside the Irish hospital service, taking leave of absence or gaining experience abroad.

If you are employed outside the Irish hospital service and you cease to pursue, for any reason, the research or other activity which has been agreed, you must inform the Dean promptly. It will then be decided, in consultation with the ICO Training Committee, whether it is appropriate for you to remain within the programme. If you are employed outside the Irish hospital service and wish to begin or return to the Training Programme, you must accept a reasonable offer of a suitable placement. Offers of placements will, as far as possible, take into account your training need.

Trainees must pass the FRC(Ophth) Part 1 in order to proceed to MRCSI (Ophth) Part 2. Further details can be found at  

Trainees must pass the MRCSI (ophthalmology) to successfully complete Basic Training. The exam is run by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

The MRCSI (Ophth) is an internationally recognised examinations that assesses competence in clinical ophthalmology and the relevant basic sciences. It focuses on the assessment of the key components of clinical competence; knowledge, clinical skills, communication, clinical reasoning ability and professionalism. Candidates are required to demonstrate competence in all of these areas to achieve success in the examination.

2018/2019 Exam Information 

For information on examinations for 2018/2019 including dates, please view the MRCSI Exams 2018/2019  document.

Refraction Exam Exemption 

You may be eligible for an exemption for the refraction examination.  Please view the document Exemption for the Refraction Exam MRCSI for guidance on how to apply.


On satisfactory completion of all elements of Basic Surgical Training, trainees will be awarded a Certificate of Completion of Core Training in Ophthalmology. This certificate signifies that the trainee has performed satisfactorily and has reached the level of competence which is expected at the end of core training. In order to obtain a Certificate of Completion of Core Training, trainees must:

  1. Have a minimum of six satisfactory CAPA Process grades
  2. Have passed the MRCSI Examination
  3. Attended the Human Factors course and passed the OSCE for BST1 & BST2
  4. Completed and submitted an audit
  5. Attended relevant obligatory courses
  6. Completed minimum number of Index Surgical Procedures (validated elogbook)

The medical workforce is changing and, over recent years, numerous reports have pointed to the importance of providing flexible working arrangements for doctors. The HSE National Flexible Training Scheme for Specialist Trainees is a national scheme managed and funded by NDTP for supernumerary posts. The scheme facilitates doctors to continue their training in a flexible manner for a set period of time.  The HSE National Flexible Training Scheme Guide sets out details of the National Flexible Training Scheme and provides information for trainees, training bodies and employers about the programme.

If you wish to apply to the HSE National Flexible Training Scheme please complete and submit the application form.

Financial Supports

There are currently three schemes in operation which provide financial supports to NCHD's and Consultants, funded by the NDTP.

Details of the schemes can be found on the HSE website .