Global Ophthalmology education and training opportunities within ophthalmology residency programs in Canada
Authors: Weronika Jakubowska ,Antony Theogène, BernardHurley.
Author Disclosure Block: W. Jakubowska: None. A. Theogène: None. B. Hurley: None.
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess current global health education and training opportunities within ophthalmology residency programs in Canada. This study aims to explore the perspectives of program directors regarding the role of global health education in ophthalmology residency programs as well as the perceived barriers involved with the implementation of global health programs.
Study Design: A survey was designed to characterize global health training opportunities for ophthalmology trainees and to identify resources available to residents and departments. It also explored the perspectives held by program directors regarding global ophthalmology education. The survey consisted of 17 questions, from which 15 multiple-choice and 2 short answer questions were included.
Methods: The survey was distributed in April 2020 to all 15 Canadian ophthalmology residency program directors via an electronic mailing list with an expected survey response rate goal of 50%.
Results: The survey was completed by 8 ophthalmology program directors for which an overall response rate of 53% was received. Most program directors (87.5%) reported that their program had residents travelling abroad for international global health electives and half of them reported an ongoing partnership for training or research with an institution from a developing nation. However, only two (25%) offered global health courses to residents. The majority of programs (75%) had faculty members involved in global health work, however most programs (63%) did not have an assigned coordinator overseeing global health activities. The most important challenges perceived by program directors in establishing global health programs were logistics (87%), securing long term funding (75%), and limited time away for residents from their parent institution (62%). Although the majority of program directors (87.5%) recognized the benefits of global health training, they remained neutral or in disagreement with the idea of integrating international health care training as a requirement for ophthalmology trainees.
Conclusions: Global health electives are common among ophthalmology trainees and are recognized by program directors as valuable training opportunities. Although there is a growing interest for global ophthalmology electives, there are currently few programs that have comprehensive global health programs, which offer global health courses to residents. This study sheds light on the perceived financial and logistical barriers that hinder the development and implementation of global health training programs. Addressing these limitations is essential to promote global health education within current residency programs and to enhance the global health competences of trainees, while establishing long-term sustainable global health programs.