Training and supporting doctors and nurses

Fred knew that training just one eye doctor could have a huge impact; because they could go on to train hundreds more. That’s why we train a range of eye health specialists in the Pacific.

Training and supporting doctors and nurses

Fred’s passion for teaching

Fred believed there should always be three people in a room: a teacher, a student, and a patient. He took great delight in seeing the moment of understanding in his students’ eyes, and knew that one day they’d be teachers too.

“Teach the teachers first, then the teachers can teach others.”
– Professor Fred Hollows

The last lesson

Despite being very ill with cancer, Fred discharged himself from hospital in July 1992 to fly to Hanoi. He wanted to fulfil his promise to train over 300 Vietnamese eye specialists in modern eye surgery techniques. Students packed the operating theatre as Fred, too ill to perform the surgeries himself, instructed his students with his usual enthusiasm, dedication and demand for perfection. Today, his former students are performing more than 160,000 surgeries a year.

Building a local eye care workforce

One of the biggest challenges in the Pacific is the shortage of trained eye health specialists. We support the training of desperately needed eye doctors, eye nurses, community health workers and technicians in Fiji at Fiji National University in partnership with the Pacific Eye Institute and in Papua New Guinea in partnership with Divine Word University and Madang Provincial Hospital. Our graduates return home to work for their Ministries of Health, giving hundreds of thousands of people access to high-quality eye care services. We provide on-going support and mentoring to make sure they have everything they need. Together with our Ministry of Health partners, we have supported the training of 372 eye health specialists from 15 countries in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

The Pacific Eye Institute supports Fiji National University in offering three post-graduate level courses in eye care specialist qualifications:

  • Master of Medicine (MMed (Ophth))
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Ophthalmology (PGDO)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care (PGDEC)

What we achieved in 2023

  • 6 countries where we work now have full-time local eye doctors
  • 2 new eye doctors graduated
  • 3 doctor graduated as a trainee eye doctor
  • 18 new eye nurses and eye care personnel throughout the Pacific graduated
  • 246 eye care professionals participated in workshops and trainings for continuing professional development
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