Original Research

The ophthalmology postgraduate training programme in South Africa: The registrars’ perspective

Nonhlanhla Majola
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 78, No 1 | a493 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v78i1.493 | © 2019 Nonhlanhla Majola | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 December 2018 | Published: 31 July 2019

About the author(s)

Nonhlanhla Majola, Department of Ophthalmology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Background: In South Africa, to become an ophthalmologist, one must successfully complete a 4-year postgraduate training programme as a registrar. This training has been offered at different institutions around the country for many years without ever being scrutinised.

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the training methods and platforms, overall satisfaction levels, problems and solutions pertaining to postgraduate ophthalmology training as identified by ophthalmology registrars.

Setting: The study was conducted in all the institutions across South Africa offering ophthalmology postgraduate training.

Methods: This was an educational evaluation study. The data collection instrument used was a questionnaire created using SurveyMonkey.com and sent via email to all ophthalmology registrars, including supernumerary candidates. Ethical approval was granted by the university’s Biomedical Research Ethics Committee.

Results: There was a 48% response rate to the survey. Registrars were satisfied that they had received adequate teaching and support, although there was room for improvement. The common problems that impacted the quality of training, as cited by the registrars, were staff shortages, large patient numbers as well as old and broken-down infrastructure or equipment. Despite 86% of the registrars spending at least 5–10 h a week in theatre, 13.3% indicated that they had no supervision during that time. Access to teaching materials (journals, library and Internet) was not available to 34% of the respondents.

Conclusion: Registrars were generally satisfied with their training, but major problems that negatively affect their time as trainees were highlighted. Cooperation between registrars, universities, heads of departments and the department of health will be important to remedy this situation.


ophthalmology; registrar training; training programme; South Africa


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