Around the Philippines: A Perspective on the Demographics of Pinoy Ophthalmology Training

While we are fortunate that the Philippines is home to some of the best landscapes and islands in the world, the same pose geographic and economic challenges when it comes to public health, specifically eye health services. On top of the difficulties in the establishment of eye centers and acquisition of ophthalmic equipment, recruitment of subspecialists is likewise crucial in maintaining standards in training residents and delivering health care. Acceptance into ophthalmology residency programs in our country is highly competitive, with 22 training institutions located in Metro Manila and 11 in the provinces. Subspecialty training, on the other hand, is only offered in few hospitals in the whole Philippines, and other aspiring subspecialists may choose to train in fellowships abroad. Furthermore, fellowship graduates must undergo a structured application and assessment to be accepted as a member of their respective societies.

It is only through high quality training and rigorous screening process can we deliver a high standard of care for Filipino patients. By teaching trainees in different subspecialties, resident graduates are taught in medical and surgical independence and clinical decision making skills. In order to achieve this, highly dedicated trainers are needed in accredited training institutions. In a survey done last 2022, 22 respondents (chair and training officer alike) are in need of more subspecialists in their institution. Thirteen of all respondents are from Metro Manila, 6 are from Luzon, 1 from Visayas and 2 from Mindanao. The most needed subspecialty is Ocular Pathology (81%), followed by Ocular Oncology (66.6%) and Uveitis (47.6%). Other much needed subspecialities are Oculoplastics and Orbit (33.3%), Neuro-Ophthalmology (28.6%), Cornea and External Disease (23.8%) and Refractive Surgery (14.3%). Fifteen (68%) of these institutions offer part-time positions, while seven(32%) with full-time positions, and the rest with 10 (45%) slots for visiting consultants. Three full-time positions are from Northern Luzon, 3 from Metro Manila, and 1 from Visayas; while for the part time positions, 7 are hospitals from Metro Manila, 4 from Northern Luzon, 1 from Southern Luzon, 1 from Visayas, and 2 from Mindanao. With this information at hand, we can see that there are many positions available for Ophthalmology faculty who wish to practice outside Metro Manila. Aside from the excellent opportunity to establish contacts within the medical community in their area, subspecialists can also pursue medical research and publications through the hospitals’ institutional review boards. It also presents a learning experience not only for their chosen specialty, but also gives a review of the current trends and practice in general ophthalmology. Being a consultant in a training institution presents an opportunity to supervise young medical students, residents, and fellows, thereby developing mentoring and teaching skills. Overall, pursuing one’s passion and choice of subspecialty is a satisfying experience, and can support career advancement.

Figure 1. Distribution Map of Subspecialty Consultants Needed in Provincial Training Hospitals
Figure 2. Distribution Map of Subspecialty Consultants Needed in Metro Manila Training Hospitals

Table 1. Possible Positions Available for Subspecialists


Dr. Faye Levina
Dr. Jose Carlo Artiaga

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