My 5 Star Taster Week at St Thomas’ Hospital London

Aisha Ismail Abubakar

Some things are almost too good to be true. This feeling resonates with me every time I look back at my taster week in Ophthalmology at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. It was February 2022 and I had just started a new job in the Orthopaedic department of Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

During one of my lunch breaks while working at St Thomas’ hospital, I made a brief detour to the eye department and asked anyone I saw about who I could speak to about putting in a formal application for a taster week. I was given the email address of a member of staff and that was the beginning of it all. The person I emailed was kind enough to put me through to the right person in charge of organizing the taster weeks. This person subsequently wrote to me asking what I would like to achieve during the taster week, and I replied saying I would want an in-depth experience of what it feels like working in the Ophthalmology department there. It was subsequently agreed that my taster week would be held in June.

In early June, prior to the commencement of the taster week, I was sent a timetable of my schedule. The security team were also emailed to give me access to the ophthalmology theatres. I was given several contact numbers and details to help me navigate the department. The whole week was planned with so much detail and was tailored to my needs. I was overjoyed! As if that wasn’t good enough, the week was filled with memorable learning experiences in clinics, theatres, and the eye casualty. It was very well organized, and all the units knew I was coming beforehand. Everyone was so lovely, and I gained so much experience and saw some very interesting cases. One of the most memorable things about the taster week, was the way everyone in the department welcomed me and was so nice. I was very relaxed and at ease. I felt like I was home!

Take some advice from me, if you’re around the London area and would like to do a taster week in ophthalmology, then I would recommend St’ Thomas’ Hospital. Do make sure to apply at the beginning of the year because they do have a waiting list.

I have attached to this article, my timetable and the activities I was involved in so that you may feast your eyes. It really was a superb experience!

AM SessionMedical Retina ClinicGlaucoma ClinicEye CasualtyPaediatrics ClinicNeuro-Ophthalmology Clinic
Time0900 – 13000900 – 13000900 – 13000900 – 13000900 – 1300
PM SessionUveitis & Medical Retina InjectionsGlaucoma TheatreCornea TheatreGlaucoma ClinicGlaucoma Laser
Time1330 – 17301330 – 17301330 – 17301330 – 17301330 – 1730
Timetable for my taster week



  • Anaesthesia observed:
    • Subtenon Block: Observed: 2
    • Peribulbar block: Observed: 1
  • Surgery observed: Glaucoma & Corneal theatre sessions
    • Phacoemulsification: Observed: 7
    • Right Keratoplasty- anterior lamella: Observed: 1
    • Baerveldt Glaucoma implant plus pericardial graft to sclera, subconjunctival application of MMC: Observed: 1
    • Endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation: Observed: 1


  • Patients observed at slit lamp, including fundoscopy & gonioscopy >20
  • Patients examined at slit lamp under supervision – 5
  • Observed tonometry with Goldmann, iCare & ORA
  • Observed corneal pachymetry with Pachmate
  • Observed OCT imaging, biometry and fundal photography
  • Observed anti-VEGF intravitreal injections
  • Observed Humphrey field testing being done by patients and had perimetry performed on herself
  • Observed use of an Ophthalmology EMR (Openeyes to document clinical data, and Forum software to monitor for glaucoma progression

In conclusion, I believe some of the characteristics that distinguish ophthalmologists from other physicians would have to be their overall demeanour, welcoming nature, and their kind personality. If you’re reading this and have made it this far, I do believe we both have chosen the right specialty!


This article is dedicated to the entire staff of the Ophthalmology department at St’ Thomas’ hospital especially the Glaucoma surgeon who planned this brilliant taster week. Thank you for all you do.

Please note, I have concealed the names of the consultants and have deliberately not mentioned any names to respect their privacy.

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