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Before you begin your ophthalmology residency, you need to take one year of clinical base training at Mayo Clinic or in another academic medical setting. This year normally includes clinical training in internal medicine, along with specialty electives such as neurology and otorhinolaryngology.

To fulfill this requirement, Mayo Clinic offers:

  • A preliminary internal medicine program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota
  • A transitional year program at Mayo Clinic in Florida
  • A transitional year program at Mayo Clinic in Arizona

Clinical Training

Your clinical training will combine 16 months of clinical rotations with 20 months of ophthalmologic surgery services. During clinical rotations, you will study the entire spectrum of ophthalmologic diseases. You will have the opportunity to learn and practice the following examination techniques and procedures:

  • Argon, krypton and YAG laser surgery
  • Biomicroscopy
  • Color vision testing
  • Cryotherapy
  • Dark adaptometry
  • Electroretinography
  • Fitting contact lenses and low-vision aids
  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Ophthalmic photography (including corneal endothelial specular microscopy)
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Orthoptics
  • Outpatient surgery
  • Perimetry
  • Refraction
  • Slit lamp photography
  • Tonography
  • Ultrasonography

In addition to general ophthalmology, you will gain focused clinical experience in the following subspecialty areas:

  • Anterior segment diseases
  • Glaucoma
  • Medical- and neuro-ophthalmology
  • Oculoplastic and orbital surgery
  • Ophthalmic pathology
  • Pediatric ophthalmology
  • Refraction, contact lenses and low-vision aids
  • Retinal and vitreal diseases
  • Strabismus
  • Uveitis and ocular inflammation

During your 26 months of ophthalmologic surgery training, you will care for both inpatients and outpatients, assist in surgery with your assigned staff member, and assume increasing surgical responsibilities as your training progresses. The surgical rotations include:

  • Anterior segment and cataract surgery
  • Corneal surgery
  • Glaucoma surgery
  • Oculoplastic and orbital surgery
  • Retinal and vitreal surgery
  • Strabismus surgery
  • Pediatric ophthalmology surgery

During your third year, you will serve as chief resident at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and the Minneapolis, Minn. based VA Medical Center. As a chief resident, you will have primary responsibility for a surgical and medical service. Mayo Clinic funds the authorized additional costs of travel and housing. Our residents consistently rate these rotations very highly.

The following is a typical ophthalmology residency rotation schedule.

Comprehensive ophthalmology 4 months
Ophthalmic pathology/Neuro-ophthalmology 2 months
Refraction, contact lenses and low vision 2 months
Oculoplastics and orbit 1 month
Cornea 2 months
Retina 1 month
Retina-vitreous 2 months
Glaucoma 2 months
Pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus 2 months
Anterior segment and cataract surgery 4 months
Oculoplastics 2 months
Chief Resident, Rochester 3 months
Chief Resident, Minneapolis 3 months
Comprehensive ophthalmology 6 months

Rotation Descriptions

First Year
First year rotations are scheduled in the Comprehensive Ophthalmology Service, Refraction/Low Vision/Contact Lens/Retina, Neuro-ophthalmology, Cornea, and Oculoplastic and Orbit clinics. During this time, you gradually will assume patient care responsibilities.

You will be responsible for evening and weekend call after two months of outpatient training. The first-year also includes an ophthalmic pathology rotation, which includes didactic sessions and examination of pathology specimens with an ophthalmic pathologist. This rotation also includes formal wet lab instruction in surgical technique by staff surgeons as well as a cadaver orbital dissection.

Second Year
The second year includes two-month rotations through the surgical subspecialties. During this time, you are given the opportunity to observe and perform surgery under the close guidance of the staff. Your surgical responsibilities are increased based upon your abilities, so as to obtain the expertise and confidence that is expected from an ophthalmic surgeon and to provide patients with the best possible surgical care.

You also complete first call duties early in the second year and begin second call. Second call requires that the resident be available for consultation on cases seen by the first call resident and assist the chief resident associate in surgery. Call is every fourth night and may be taken from home, although in-house facilities are available. Near the end of the second year, each resident is asked to present to the department a "mini-thesis" on a topic of his or her choice. This project is undertaken in collaboration with a staff member, and many of these works have been published or presented at national meetings.

Third Year
The third year includes the most rewarding portion of the training program, the chief residency. If you are in satisfactory academic standing, you will be appointed as chief resident, assuming primary responsibility for the surgical and medical care of your patients. Additionally, the chief resident is on call for all emergency operations and emergency hospital admissions.

To maximize the surgical experience on this service, each PGY-4 resident spends nine months in Rochester, and three months at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn. During your interview, you will have the opportunity to visit with individuals who can share their experiences about these sites.

Required Off-site Rotations
During your third year of the Ophthalmology Residency at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, there is a required chief resident three-month rotation in Minneapolis, Minn. at the VA Medical Center.

Didactic Training
Each week during your residency, from September through June, you will participate in a series of didactic lectures presented by the staff members of the Department of Ophthalmology, which explore the entire field of ophthalmology during the three-year program. This series is structured around the Ophthalmology Basic and Clinical Science Course issued by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Additional special conferences in optic, refraction and fluorescein angiography are available. Lectures include:

  • External and Corneal Diseases
  • Fundamentals and Principles of Ophthalmology (anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and pathology)
  • Glaucoma, Disorders of the Lens and Anterior Segment Trauma
  • Intraocular Inflammation, Uveitis and Other Tumors
  • Neuro-Ophthalmology
  • Ophthalmic Pathology
  • Optics, Refraction and Contact Lenses
  • Orbital, Lacrimal and Eyelid Diseases
  • Retinal and Vitreous Diseases
  • Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

During your residency you will be able to attend a national meeting of your choice. Attendance at additional meetings for the purpose of presenting original research will also be encouraged. Financial support for these activities will be provided.

Grand Rounds
During your three years of study, you will prepare case study presentations. You will present the pertinent information of an interesting case, conduct an in-depth discussion of that case, and provide a current bibliography as part of Grand Rounds.

Research Training
You will be expected to conduct and complete at least one clinical research project during your residency. You also will be required to present the results of your research at the annual Residents' Research Symposium and at appropriate national meetings. If your paper is approved by the department and is accepted for presentation at such a meeting, Mayo Clinic will fund the associated authorized travel costs.

Teaching Opportunities
You will have the opportunity to teach Mayo Medical School students, visiting students from other medical schools and other residents in the clinical setting.

Call Frequency
Your call schedule will vary by individual rotation. Mayo Clinic follows the recommendations of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Committee Assignments
You will be given an opportunity to gain experience in a number of administrative capacities. For example, appointment to the Education Committee will provide you with experience in education administration.

Moonlighting Policy
Moonlighting is permitted for licensed residents beyond the PGY-1 level. Moonlighting activities may be scheduled during those times when you are assigned to consultative or outpatient rotations.

To ensure that you acquire adequate knowledge and develop your technical skills, your performance will be monitored carefully during the course of your ophthalmology residency. At the end of each two-month rotation, the staff consultants will examine and grade your performance. In addition, you will have an individual quarterly conference with the program director to assess and discuss your progress, as well as educational and organizational matters. You will be asked to submit a written evaluation of the residency program every year. A computerized data collection system will track your surgical experience throughout training.

Academic progress is formally monitored by quarterly oral and written quizzes as well as by the performance in the annual Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP) examination.

Career Development
You will have the opportunity to meet periodically with various faculty members, administrators and the program director to discuss your goals. Mayo Clinic recruits many of its staff physicians from its own training programs. Thus, when you successfully complete the Ophthalmology Residency Program, job opportunities may be available at one of Mayo Clinic's group practices.

Additional Training
In addition to the three-year Ophthalmology Residency program, Mayo Clinic in Rochester offers two ophthalmology fellowship training programs in:

  • Oculoplastic & Orbital Surgery
  • Retinal & Vitreous Surgery

If you are interested in one of these fellowships, please contact the Ophthalmology Residency program director at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

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