Entry to ophthalmology training at ST1 level is one of the most popular and competitive recruitment processes in UK postgraduate medicine, therefore applicants should take every opportunity to prepare themselves for this challenge. Hopeful ST1 applicants may find A Practical Guide for Aspiring Ophthalmologists a useful read. This book was written by a current ophthalmology specialist registrar who secured his first-choice ophthalmology post on first attempt.
The book begins with an introduction to ophthalmology as a specialty and the author’s personal journey into it. This highlights key features and attractions of the specialty and also provides information about the background of the author. In this section, Dr Rufai also provides helpful tips on publishing papers, presenting at conferences and winning prizes; an area he (an academic ophthalmology trainee) has ample experience in. The style of writing is narrative and informal with a personal voice, so that it feels as if the author is speaking directly to the reader and is telling them about his experiences and giving advice.
In the remaining sections of the book, the author discusses the current format of the recruitment process and addresses each component of the interview in a comprehensive manner with the aim of providing a logical framework for candidates to rely on in the pressure of interview stations. A key strength of the book is that it provides useful teaching on critical appraisal and statistics in a digestible way and this teaching is applicable to other areas of medicine. Furthermore, in order to “practise, practise and practise” (this emphasised by the author as the cornerstone of success), the book includes three full mock interview circuits with solutions. These circuits have been developed by the author to serve as hypothetical examples of topics or questions that candidates could face in the ST1 interviews.
In summary, A Practical Guide for Aspiring Ophthalmologists provides a systematic approach to tackling the ST1 interview and other tips for a successful academic career, which many applicants may find helpful.