RANZCO’s top ophthalmology trainers of 2021 revealed

Western Australian ophthalmologist and first-time RANZCO Trainer of Excellence recipient Dr Xia Ni Wu says she is excited by the next generation of “knowledgeable, inquisitive, and well-trained” Australian eye doctors who increasingly have access to world-leading experts through online platforms.

Wu – whose has public appointments at the Sir Charles Gairdner and Fremantle hospitals and consults privately at South Street Eye Clinic – was among seven RANZCO Fellows recognised as Trainers of Excellence this year, as voted by trainees within the college’s Vocational Training Program (VTP).

Each year, RANZCO asks its trainees to nominate the training supervisor in their network they believe deserves recognition for outstanding dedication to teaching.

The 2021 recipients were:

  • Prof Robert Casson, South Australia
  • Dr Matthew Spargo, Prince of Wales, New South Wales
  • Dr Elizabeth Insull, New Zealand
  • Dr Cameron McLintock, Queensland
  • A/Prof Alex Hunyor Jr, Sydney Eye Hospital, New South Wales
  • A/Prof Anthony Hall, Victoria
  • Dr Xia Ni Wu, Western Australia

Wu’s speciality interests are uveitis and medical retina. She spent 2.5 years at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London as part of a fellowship, and was the Lions Outback Vision Fellow for six months delivering rural and remote ophthalmology care.

As a junior consultant, she returned to Australia in April 2020, as the pandemic was taking off. She currently has no research positions but was previously involved in pivotal uveitis trials (POINT and MERIT).

She became a RANZCO training supervisor as part of her public appointments. However, teaching was something she always aspired to, making it a natural and welcomed career progression.

“I have been very fortunate to have had inspirational teachers throughout my training who shared their knowledge and experience freely, patiently, and insightfully, and I hope to bring that to my own career,” she said.

“It has reinforced my belief in the value of shared knowledge, and I see teaching more as a collaboration as I am learning and being challenged at the same time. I think this is particularly important as innovation and research is driven by challenges to the status quo, which then translates to improved treatment and patient outcomes.”

As a trainer, she feels particularly rewarded when she sees the “look of comprehension” or when an achievement such as a surgical skill is mastered.

“I’m encouraged and excited by the next generation of ophthalmologists. They are knowledgeable, inquisitive, and well-trained. They also have the benefit of the online platforms and access to world class experts virtually, which I believe is the way of the future of education,” she said.

“I’m terrifically humbled and honoured to be awarded a RANZCO Trainer of Excellence. I hope it also encourages other junior fellows to become involved in teaching as it is very rewarding, accolades aside.”

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