Ophthalmology Surgical Educators Often Lack Formal Training, Study Finds

Published on: 

Most ophthalmology teaching faculty noted their lack of awareness about available resources or training as a barrier, rather than a lack of time, perceived benefit, or funding.

An assessment of the training and surgical experience of ophthalmology teaching faculty suggests a focused effort to deliver educational resources may be necessary in order to improve gaps in the surgical education of residents.1

The study, presented at the 127th Annual American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Meeting in San Francisco, California, defined the characteristics of teaching faculty participating in the AAO 2022 SCOR Skills Transfer Workshop. A team of investigators assessed 59 faculty trainers' experiences from questionnaires completed during the workshop in 2022.

Based on the collected data, the majority of faculty trainers did not receive formal training in surgical teaching, and most were unaware of training opportunities or resources in surgical teaching.

“A targeted effort to disseminate pedagogic resources among ophthalmology faculty may fill a current need in the surgical education of residents,” wrote the investigative team, led by Alina Husain, BS, Weill Cornell Medicine.

The effort to standardize competency-based resident surgical training education led to the development of the Surgical Curriculum for Ophthalmology Residents (SCOR) by the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO). However, in that effort, the experience of teaching faculty, including formal training and qualifications, who provide surgical instruction was not well-defined.

Among this study population, those included for analysis had ≥3 years of teaching experience and “well-developed” anterior segment surgical skill. They were additionally nominated by the program chair or director of an AUPO-member residency program. Approximately 47% of SCOR trainers were found to have ≥11 years of experience teaching residents.

A plurality of the trainers (40.7%) had 6 to 10 years of experience teaching cataract or anterior segment to residents. In addition, the majority of faculty (n = 32; 54%) reported experience teaching cataract surgery to ≥50 residents, with 17 (28.8%) endorsing ≥15 years of teaching.

However, per the findings, the majority of SCOR trainers did not receive formal training in surgical teaching. Only 16 (27.1%) faculty trainers reported receiving formal training in surgical education. The faculty reported receiving formal training through an AAO course (50%), AUPO course (31.3%), American College of Surgeons course (6.3%), and/or home institution course (68.8%).

Moreover, the aspects of teaching considered most important for becoming an effective surgical educator included teaching technique, volume of cases performed, personal experience with complications, and communication skills.

When considering the reasons for lack of formal training in surgical education, the majority (59.3%) of SCOR trainers noted they were unaware of training opportunities or resources in surgical teaching. Other reasons included lack of time (18.6%), lack of perceived benefit (11.9%), and lack of funding (10.2%).

But, overall, the study found the majority of faculty (n = 50; 84.7%) participating in the workshop indicated their interest in receiving greater resources and training to become a more effective surgical educator.


  1. Husain A, Winebrake JP, Sun G, Mian SI, Armenti ST. Training the Trainers: Assessment of the Training and Surgical Experience of Ophthalmology Teaching Faculty. Presented at the 2023 American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, November 3 – 6, 2023.