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Twenty years of International Council of Ophthalmology fellowships: description of the programme and the impact on more than 1100 awardees
  1. Emilio A Torres-Netto1,2,3,4,
  2. Cordula Gabel-Obermaier5,
  3. Peter Gabel6,
  4. Balder Gloor7,
  5. Peter Wiedemann8,9,
  6. Hugh Taylor10,11,
  7. Clare Davey12,13,
  8. Nicola Quilter14,
  9. Berthold Seitz15,16
  1. 1 Ocular Cell Biology Group, Center for Applied Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  2. 2 Department of Ophthalmology, Federal University of Sao Paulo Paulista Medical School, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  3. 3 Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  4. 4 ELZA Institute, Dietikon, Zurich, Switzerland
  5. 5 Executive for ICO Fellowships, International Council of Ophthalmology, Munich, Germany
  6. 6 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Bayern, Germany
  7. 7 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Zurich Faculty of Medicine, Zurich, Switzerland
  8. 8 Klinik Und Poliklinik Für Augenheilkunde, Universitatsklinikum Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  9. 9 ICO President Since 2018, International Council of Ophthalmology, San Francisco, California, USA
  10. 10 Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  11. 11 ICO President from 2014 to 2018, International Council of Ophthalmology, Melbourne, Australia
  12. 12 Head of ICO Exams since 2018, International Council of Ophthalmology, London, United Kingdom
  13. 13 Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK
  14. 14 Executive for ICO Exams, International Council of Ophthalmology, London, United Kingdom
  15. 15 Department of Ophthalmology, Saarland University Medical Center, Homburg/Saar, Germany
  16. 16 Head of ICO Fellowships since 2016, International Council of Ophthalmology, Homburg/Saar, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Emilio Almeida Torres-Netto, University of Zürich, Center for Applied Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, Winterthurerstrasse 190, Zürich 8057, Switzerland;emilioatorres{at}me.com

Abstract

Background/Aims The International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) offers fellowship programmes to help young ophthalmologists, mainly from low-resource countries, improve their practical or research skills in ophthalmology subspecialty areas. Using questionnaires, the objective of the present study was to evaluate how the ICO Fellowship Programme has impacted on improving knowledge, skills and the careers of young ophthalmologists from low-resource countries.

Methods From 2001 to 2019 overall 1140 ICO fellowships were awarded. A questionnaire was sent to ICO fellows after the conclusion of their fellowship and another 3 years later. Part 1 contained 26 questions, while Part 2 had 21 questions. The answers were collected through an online platform and analysed descriptively thereafter.

Results 1101 Part 1 questionnaires had been sent to former fellows, with a return rate of 47% (516 responses) and 829 Part 2 questionnaires with a return rate of 47% (390 responses). Overall, 98.3% strongly or somewhat agreed that knowledge in their subspecialty has improved considerably. Whereas only 19% of them held a lecturer, senior lecturer or head of subspecialty department position prior to the fellowship, 46% of them held such a position 3 years after the fellowship was completed.

Conclusions The ICO Fellowship Programmes aim to promote the enhancement of eye care delivery and eye health in low-resource countries, the professional development of young leaders and the improvement of eye care. The results of the current study confirm the expectation of such a positive impact. Moreover, almost half of the responding participants have been appointed to a local leadership position in their home country.

  • Medical Education
  • Public health
  • Vision
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Footnotes

  • Contributors EAT-N: data analysis/interpretation, drafting and critical revision of the manuscript; CG-O: concept and design, data acquisition, statistical analysis, data analysis/interpretation, critical revision of the manuscript; PG: concept and design, data acquisition, critical revision of the manuscript, and supervision; BG, PW, HRT, CD: concept and design, critical revision of the manuscript, and supervision; NQ: concept and design, and critical revision of the manuscript; BS: data analysis/interpretation, concept and design, critical revision of the manuscript, and supervision.

  • Funding Torres-Netto was recipient of the inaugural International Council of Ophthalmology Advanced Research Fellowship Award. Theother authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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