Two Malaga opthalmologists are first in Spain to receive prestigious FEBO title

Ana Morales and María Isabel Pérez in the ophthalmology surgery at Malaga's Materno hospital.
Ana Morales and María Isabel Pérez in the ophthalmology surgery at Malaga's Materno hospital. / ÑITO SALAS
  • Doctors María Isabel Pérez Cabeza and Ana Morales Becerra have passed a famously difficult paediatric ophthalmology and strabismus exam with flying colours

María Isabel Pérez Cabeza, 36, and Ana Morales Becerra, 31, are the only people in Spain to be able to add the letters FEBO after their names. They received the prestigious title Fellow of the European Board of Ophthalmology after passing an incredibly difficult subspecialist exam on the subjects of paediatric ophthalmology and strabismus.

This title, which has been awarded to just five European ophthalmologists, signifies international recognition of excellence and enables access to specialist jobs all over Europe.

“For us, passing the FEBO means we've overcome an important personal challenge. Very few ophthalmologists have this title. All the effort we put in to prepare for the test has paid off,” María Isabel Pérez explained to SUR.

“The exam was very complex, with an integrated theory section of 375 questions and an oral section with four questions that lasted 15 minutes each. Everything was written and spoken in English,” said Ana Morales.

The FEBO title is awarded by the European Board of Ophthalmology (EBO), the European Strabismology Association (ESA) and the European Paediatric Ophthalmological Society (EPOS). The examiners are all internationally recognised ophthalmologists and members of ESA or EPOS.

To be receive the title, ophthalmologists must pass at least 70 per cent of the written test and 60 per cent of each oral test.

Despite the prestige of the FEBO title, it is not currently recognised within the jobs sector of the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) or the regional government. This is not the case elsewhere in Spain.

Specialists at Carlos Haya

Ana Isabel Pérez Cabeza and Ana Morales both specialised in ophthalmology at Carlos Haya regional hospital. The former completed her residency in 2010 and the latter in 2015.

Dr Pérez Cabeza works in the paediatric ophthalmology unit at the Malaga children's hospital on a temporary contract. At the same time, she is a consultant ophthalmologist at a private clinic in Ronda, her birth town.

For her part, Dr Morales works in the regional hospital of Motril in a 50 per cent job share with another ophthalmologist. Before that, she practised paediatric ophthalmology for two years at the San Joan de Deu Hospital in Barcelona. When she finished her job there, she was offered an extension to her contract, but turned it down in favour of returning to Malaga. Ana Morales also sees patients at a private clinic.

These two local ophthalmologists are looking to secure professional careers within the Andalusian health service. Ana Isabel Pérez is satisfied with her current temporary contract at the children's hospital and Ana Morales hopes that the SAS will offer her a contract at the same hospital in the near future. It's safe to say that the FEBO title is a reliable guarantee of the capability and knowledge of both these women.