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Today's Practice | Mar 2010

Advanced Training in Ophthalmology

BONUS FEATURE ON RESIDENT TRAINING: The European School for Advanced Studies in Ophthalmology offers physicians postgraduate training in a variety of subspecialties.

The European School for Advanced Studies in Ophthalmology (ESASO; hosted by the Universitá della Svizzera italiana USI, Lugano, Switzerland) strives to offer the best postgraduate training in ophthalmology available in Europe. ESASO comprises professors of international standing and holds active cooperation arrangements with important treatment and research centers, including centers in Barcelona, Spain; Munich, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Milan, Italy; and Paris. Borja Corcóstegui, MD, is the President of the ESASO Scientific Council.

The program, which was made possible in part due to contributions from the Department of Education, Culture, and Sport of the Canton of Ticino (Switzerland), the City of Lugano (Switzerland), the Università della Svizzera italiana, and the Swiss Society of Ophthalmology, was conceived in response to the need for effective postgraduate teaching and training for young ophthalmologists in Europe. ESASO aims to satisfy the highest qualitative standards in ophthalmology. A sampling of the programs of study include cornea, refractive, glaucoma, cataract, vitreoretinal pathology, uveitis, oculoplasty, pediatric ophthalmology, and strabismus.

The environment in which most surgical training is conducted is fast-paced. There is little time between cases for surgeons to work with residents, which, over the long term, does not help to educate students. Therefore, the mission of ESASO is to create a unique environment that accommodates the needs of our postgraduates. We accomplish this by offering interesting, efficient, and interactive courses; by providing training with respect to market opportunities; and by upholding ESASO's ultimate mission to emphasize the value of human life and the importance of developing solidarity with patients. ESASO not only teaches young surgeons how to perform high-level ocular surgery but also encourages them to share the competencies that they gain at ESASO with other specialists.

ESASO employs a teaching staff of prominent ophthalmologists from all over the world. Our faculty members are well known not only for their scientific qualifications but also for their capacity for human understanding. We believe that we are equipped to educate postgraduates in the best diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for a variety of ocular pathologies. Our aim is to create international relationships and connections among the best ophthalmologists and those who wish to become one of the best. We strive to spread best practices to developing countries by encouraging ophthalmologists from these regions to attend ESASO.

Anterior segment training is a 1-week course that combines theoretical training in the mornings with wet-lab training in the afternoons. This structure is unique because postgraduate training typically occurs only in the form of a fellowship or half- or full-day courses in ophthalmology at the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS) Annual Meeting.

The 1-week format is attractive to busy ophthalmologists and is offered only at ESASO. The advantage of this educational structure is that students work intensively with top professors for the entire week. The curriculum encourages interaction between students and professors in the classrooms and wet labs. Often, students and professors have lunch and dinner together, providing students with access to experts and creating a fruitful training experience.

The ESCRS has joined efforts with ESASO. The ESCRS holds meetings twice a year, lasting an average 4 days. Although these meetings help to educate the ESCRS membership with the highest quality standards, this format cannot compare to the intensity or effectiveness of a 1-week training program. The ESCRS recognizes that ESASO's educational program offers an outstanding postgraduate training opportunity and promotes ESASO to its members. Furthermore, many of ESASO's teachers are members of the ESCRS.

For information about ESASO, including admission requirements and the curriculum, please visit www.esaso.ch.

Giuseppe Guarnaccia, MD, is the Executive Director of the European School for Advanced Studies in Ophthalmology. Dr. Guarnaccia states that he has no financial interest in the material presented in this article. He may be reached at tel: +41 58 666 46 29; fax: +41 58 666 46 19; e-mail: info@esaso.ch.

Jose L. Güell, MD, is the Director of the Cornea and Refractive Surgery Unit at the Instituto de Microcirugia Ocular, Barcelona, Spain, and an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona. He is also the President of the ESCRS and a member of the CRST Europe Editorial Board. Dr. Güell states that he has no financial interest in the material presented in this article. He may be reached at tel: +34 93 253 15 00; e-mail: guell@imo.es.