Ophthalmology Residency Program - FAQs

How many residents are in each class?

What is the current salary (AY 2018-2019)?
PGY2 $66,000
PGY3 $69,000
PGY4 $72,000

What fringe benefits are available?
Health insurance, life insurance, malpractice insurance, disability insurance, subsidized passes for the subway, etc.

How many weeks of vacation are allowed?
Three weeks per year. Each resident also may take one personal day per year. Intermediate and senior residents are allowed to take up to a total of five additional days over two years for fellowship and job interviews.

Do residents rotate to a VA hospital?
Yes. Each year the residents rotate to the Boston VA for one six to seven week block. Senior residents rotate to the Togus VA in Maine for an additional six to seven week block.

What is the night-float system?
The night-float system was instituted to comply with ACGME duty hour restrictions. Formerly junior (PGY2) residents were required to take overnight in-house call in the emergency room after working a full workday and then stay to work half of the post-call day. The junior residents now cover the ER with a night float system. Due to recent ACGME rule changes, our night float week had to be shortened from 7 nights in a row to 6 nights in a row. Junior residents rotate taking 6 nights of night float. While on night float, there are no clinical responsibilities during the day. The 7th night is also covered by the junior residents on a rotating schedule. Again, when covering a night shift in EW there are clinical responsibilities either the day before or after. Night float shifts are from 6:00pm until 8:00am.

Senior residents work nightfloat shifts in the emergency room to supervise the junior residents from 6:00pm to 8:00am for the first 12 weeks of the academic year. Each senior resident spends one or two weeks as the senior nightfloat during the first two blocks of the year. For the remainder of the year, the seniors have no call responsibilities for approximately four months; they take call from home for approximately five months approximately every fourth or fifth day to back-up the junior residents working in the emergency room and to operate on ruptured globes.

How much call do residents take?
No resident takes any overnight in-house call. The emergency room is covered by the nightfloat system as outlined above. In addition, junior residents work shifts on weekend days from 8:00am - 6:00pm. Intermediate residents take call from home on some of their rotations. Seniors take call as outlined above.

Is there orientation during the first year?
There is a one week formal orientation for all junior residents with no other clinical responsibilities. Residents are oriented to Mass. Eye and Ear (benefits, health screening, etc.) and receive formal instruction in the basics of ophthalmology (introductory lectures and sessions learning how to use equipment) from the chief resident and clinical attendings. Incoming residents are not expected to know much ophthalmology when starting residency.

Is there a wet lab?
There is a wet lab that is available to residents 24 hours a day fully equipped with microsurgical instruments and microscopes. Practice eyes are readily available from the New England Eye Bank (human) and pig eyes are ordered routinely. There is a structured surgical curriculum in which each resident undergoes multiple sessions in the wet lab with a faculty advisor.

Are there didactic sessions?
There are many didactic sessions throughout the year including: Friday morning lecture series (two lectures each Friday covering all topics for all residents), Grand Rounds every Thursday, Chief Resident Rounds for juniors three days per week, subspecialty rounds (cornea club, uveitis rounds, macula conference, etc.), and OKAP review sessions. In addition, there are several yearly events including the Chandler visiting professorship, Residents’ course, and the new yearly cataract course (held in May or June for intermediates).

What is the Chief Resident’s role?
The Chief Resident is a recent graduate from the program who has teaching, clinical care, and administrative responsibilities. He or she:
• serves as a liaison between the residents and faculty for all resident issues
• holds didactic sessions for junior residents three days per week and covers topics from the academy series
• supervises junior and intermediate residents in the operating room as they perform their first pterygium and cataract surgeries
• is the director of the eye trauma service and repairs all ruptured globes with senior residents and sees trauma patients in clinic two days per week with the residents
• is always available as a backup to the senior resident in the emergency room
• has a number of administrative responsibilities, including making resident clinical rotation schedules, organizing and inviting guest speakers for grand rounds, organizing the Resident’s course, and serving as a member of the Residency Steering Committee and Residency Selection Committee.

Education Allowance/Other Benefits
• Set of Academy books (14 book series)
• Equipment fund of $2,750 (one-time fund, can be spent throughout three years of residency to purchase lenses, indirect ophthalmoscope, loupes, etc.)
• Dietary fund to partially subsidize meals purchased in cafeteria for all three years of residency
• Travel expenses (up to $1500/meeting) if presenting at ARVO and/or AAO as first author on research conducted during residency; travel expenses (up to $1,000) for one meeting once during residency (not required to present)
• India elective at Aravind Hospital: $2,750 for travel expenses if going to India
• Free photocopies in the library

Do residents need to purchase a full set of instruments?
No. Gonioscopy lenses, indirect ophthalmoscopes, muscle lights, color plates, diagnostic lenses (90D, 20D), etc. are all available in the clinics and emergency room. Many residents choose to use their equipment fund to purchase some of these items. 

Do residents have to purchase the “Academy” books?
No. Entering junior residents are given a complete set of the Academy series paid for by the department in the first few weeks of residency.

Are the attendings approachable?
The attendings are all very approachable; for example, they enjoy eating lunch with the residents in the cafeteria. All residents have an attending mentor who develops a close relationship with the resident. By the end of residency most attendings know the resident’s spouse/significant other, hobbies, and interests very well and vice versa.

Is there a forum to present issues affecting residents?
The Residency Steering Committee is a committee that meets on a weekly basis. Many of the key faculty and all residents are invited to participate. All issues pertaining to the residency are presented to the steering committee and many changes are implemented regularly to address the changing needs and requirements of the residents.

Do residents have access to Harvard University?
Yes. All residents receive the academic appointment of “Clinical Fellow in Ophthalmology” at Harvard Medical School and can get an ID card from Harvard University (HU). The ID card gives access to all HU libraries, museums, and the Wellness Center. Residents may purchase an annual membership ($300/year) for Harvard University athletic facilities.

Is there a library? Is there access to electronic journals?
The Howe Library at Mass. Eye and Ear has an excellent collection of ophthalmology journals and books. In addition, residents have access to all of the Harvard University libraries including the Countway Library of Medicine. Lastly, all residents can register with “eCommons” to access Harvard University’s vast collection of electronic journals.

Is there any time for electives?
During the senior year (PGY 4) there is a six to seven week elective block designated for a rotation at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India. This is an intensive cataract surgery experience, and an opportunity to see unusual cases. More than half of the seniors each year choose to go to India for this experience. Those who do not go engage in a clinical or research project at Mass. Eye and Ear. The residency steering committee must approve the plan for the elective at MEEI. Residents that travel to India for their elective are given $2,500 for travel expenses.

Is there any opportunity to attend national meetings?
The Harvard Medical School Residency in Ophthalmology encourages residents to present at national meetings. Residents are given funding to attend 1 meeting per year in which they are presenting as a first author. Residents do not have to take vacation time if they are presenting as a first author. Each year approximately half of the residents present at Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). In addition, residents are funded to go to one meeting once during their residency without presenting. Most of the senior residents choose to attend the American Academy in Ophthalmology (AAO) or American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) meeting.

Will fellows detract from my surgical experience?
No. The clinical fellows are an asset to the residency program. Most basic surgical procedures are done by residents. Fellows are primarily involved in advanced surgical procedures. Fellows are invaluable teachers to the residents and each year the residents chose one “Fellow of the Year” who receives an award at graduation for exemplary teaching.

What have recent graduates done after residency?
After residency most of the graduates enter fellowship training in one of the subspecialties (retina, cornea, oculoplastics, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, uveitis, or pediatric ophthalmology) at top training programs. One resident each year serves as the chief resident. The remainder of residents perform research or work as general ophthalmologists either in an academic setting or in private practice. A few residents over the years have pursued interests outside of ophthalmology after finishing residency, such as attending business school or taking a position with a biotechnology company.

Is research required?
Research is not required but many residents chose to work on clinical or basic-science projects with the faculty during residency.

What is the publication requirement?
All residents are required to publish one paper during their residency. Most residents meet this requirement by participating in the Resident’s course in which residents write a review article with a preceptor from the faculty.

What kinds of publications do residents publish?
Review articles from the Resident’s course are typically published in International Ophthalmology Clinics. In addition, many residents publish case reports, clinical research, and basic science research papers in peer reviewed journals such as Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology, IOVS, and Archives of Ophthalmology.

Where do most residents live?
Residents live in many places including “Charles River Park” (a number of apartment and condominium complexes within a five-minute walk from the hospital), Beacon Hill (historic area adjacent to Mass. Eye and Ear), Back Bay, Cambridge, Brookline, Newton, and beyond. Residents who live further away usually take the subway (the “T”) or drive to work and park at the Mass. Eye and Ear lot.

Do I need a car?
No. Boston is a compact city and most places (including Mass. Eye and Ear) are accessible by subway. The Charles/MGH subway stop is a two-minute walk away from the hospital.

Is parking available at MEEI?
Yes. Residents can purchase a parking pass at a discounted rate.