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Beyond the ‘big smoke’: Enabling supervision of ophthalmology trainees in regional, rural and remote Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 16:57 authored by Belinda JessupBelinda Jessup, Allen, P, Khanal, S, Baker-Smith, V, Anthony Barnett

Objective: Expansion of opportunities for ophthalmology training beyond the ‘big smoke’ is anticipated to support the future distribution of ophthalmologists in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. However, little is known about what enables supervision outside of metropolitan tertiary hospital settings that would contribute to positive training experiences for specialist medical trainees and encourage them to leave the ‘big smoke’ once qualified. The aim of this study was therefore to explore the perceived enablers of ophthalmology trainee supervision in regional, rural and remote health settings across Australia.

Setting: Australia.

Participants: Ophthalmologists working in regional, rural or remote health settings with experience and/or interest in supervising ophthalmology trainees (n = 16).

Design: Qualitative design involving semistructured interviews.

Results: Seven key enablers of ophthalmology trainee supervision in regional, rural and remote health settings were identified: adequate physical infrastructure, resources and funding to host a trainee; availability of online curriculum and teaching resources so as to ensure equity of training opportunities; pre-established training posts, driven by supervision ‘champions’; a critical mass of ophthalmologists to help share the supervisory load; relationships and support between training posts, the training network and the Specialist Medical College; alignment of trainee competence and attitude with the needs of the training setting; and the recognition of reciprocal benefits for supervisors through supporting trainees, including workforce support and renewal.

Conclusion: With training experiences beyond the ‘big smoke’ anticipated to influence future ophthalmology workforce distribution, implementation of enablers of trainee supervision should occur in regional, rural and remote health settings wherever possible.


Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists


Publication title

Australian Journal of Rural Health






School of Health Sciences


John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2023 The Authors. Australian Journal of Rural Health published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of National Rural Health Alliance Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Other education and training not elsewhere classified; Rural and remote area health

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