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Letter from the Chair to Residency Applicants

Joan W. Miller, MD, FARVO
Henry Willard Williams Professor of Ophthalmology
Chief and Chair of Ophthalmology
Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Massachusetts General Hospital

Dear Residency Applicant:

Since I became Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School in October 2003, I have undertaken a review of our residency education, both in terms of quality and breadth of experience. In addition to my efforts, the dynamic process of ensuring quality training is guided by Dr. Carolyn Kloek, Residency Program Director, and the Chief Resident, currently Dr. Yewlin Chee.

Residents at the Harvard Medical School Residency Program in Ophthalmology receive superb training in comprehensive ophthalmology and all of the ophthalmic subspecialties. In addition, residents work with world-renowned faculty with specialized expertise, including ocular melanoma, macular degeneration, retinal degenerations, keratoprosthesis, diabetic eye disease, ocular surface disease, glaucoma, amblyopia, and ocular pathology. Moreover, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is the major tertiary care center for ocular trauma in New England and one of only two eye emergency departments in the country open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, the residents get excellent training in the medical and surgical management of ocular trauma.

While a majority of the clinical training for residents occurs at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, other Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates are a vital component of the residency program. These include: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Veterans Affairs Maine Healthcare System - Togus, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Schepens Eye Research Institute, and the Cambridge Health Alliance.

Didactics and conferences complement the strong clinical training and play a key role in resident education. Didactic education takes place through faculty lectures at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Grand Rounds, Pathology Rounds, Chief Resident rounds, additional didactics during affiliate rotations, and visiting professor lectures. A teaching highlight of the academic year is the annual Chandler Professorship, a one and a half day course in which our residents present unknown clinical cases to a visiting lecturer. Every other year, there is also a Residents’ Course in which the residents write review articles and present case-based topics to a visiting professor. Our goal is to provide excellent clinical training with a solid didactic base and additional exposure to tertiary academic ophthalmology. Given the depth and breadth of our faculty, the level of discussion at these conferences is extraordinary.

An important feature of our program is the chief resident position. The Chief Resident is a junior faculty member who has recently graduated from residency and has the primary responsibility of resident education and surgical training. She or he is responsible for the didactic morning lectures of the first year residents and works with the Chair to organize Grand Rounds. The Chief Resident also introduces the first and second year residents to cataract and pterygium surgery (in addition to a structured surgical curriculum) and serves as a trauma attending for open globe injuries. As a recent graduate and staff physician, she or he serves as an important liaison between residents and senior faculty.

Residents serve with faculty on the Residency Steering Committee, which meets biweekly to examine all issues around resident education. The Committee is chaired by Dr. Carolyn Kloek, Residency Program Director. We value resident input and critique at these meetings, and the residents greatly appreciate the opportunity to be heard and to have their concerns addressed. We believe that this committee function is unique to our program.

One of my goals is to continue to recruit and retain successful faculty who work as a team to make our department the best in the country. We continue to grow in number, and have recruited several excellent new faculty in the past year. Our K12 program for clinician scientists receives national recognition, and participants Drs. Lucia Sobrin, Ula Jurkunas, Pedram Hamrah, Jason Comander, Kevin Houston, Leo Kim, and Jennifer Sun are experiencing success in the independent research funding that the program was designed to enable. Our senior faculty attain international recognition on a regular basis, including the Friedenwald award (Dr. Lois Smith 2008), the ARVO Weisenfeld Award (Dr. Evangelos Gragoudas 2006), and the ARVO/Pfizer award for translational research (Dr. Joan Miller 2006, Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello 2007). In 2007, we were pleased to complete the funding of the Claes H. Dohlman Professorship in Ophthalmology, an endowed chair honoring Dr. Dohlman, a pioneer in corneal surgery and research, who himself received the Laureate Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology for his contributions to the field. Residents work closely with junior and senior faculty, in a rich environment of educators and mentors, and thrive in our rigorous but supportive teaching environment.

The HMS Residency Program in Ophthalmology continues to train superb ophthalmologists, many of whom are recognized leaders in ophthalmology, both in academic centers and in clinical practice. We believe that our training program provides strong training in a supportive environment, and hope to continue to strengthen and improve the residency. Training ophthalmologists remains one of the highest goals of our mission.

If you have further questions please contact the Ophthalmic Education office at 617-573-3529. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your interest.