Program Overview

Each Post Graduate Year (PGY) is composed of four, three-month rotations scheduled at our three teaching sites. The residents assume the primary responsibility for all aspects of patient care in our clinics. With this hands-on model of training, our residents quickly become adept at handling all facets of general and sub-specialty eye care, including complicated in-patient consults and ocular emergencies.

At all clinics, residents are fully supervised by our full time and voluntary faculty. The same attending physicians work with a resident throughout the resident’s rotation, providing continuity of care for the patients and an opportunity for the resident to work closely with the attending staff. Graduated responsibility for patient care, based on each resident’s progress, is assigned throughout the three years of training.

Surgical training begins in the PGY-2 year, with anterior segment lasers and minor oculoplastics procedures. PGY-3 residents begin phacoemulsification as primary surgeons, perform pediatric ophthalmology procedures and strabismus surgery, begin intravitreal injections and posterior segment lasers, assist on complicated vitreo-retinal cases, and continue training in oculoplastics surgery. In the PGY-4 year, residents spend nine months training in anterior segment surgery and orbital and complex oculoplastics procedures and three months training in vitreo-retinal surgery.

Each Wednesday morning, residents attend a half-day schedule of lectures and conferences led by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai faculty. The curriculum is based on the Basic and Clinical Science Course from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and covers all required topics. A typical Wednesday schedule begins with a 7 am conference, journal club, or lecture, followed by Departmental Grand Rounds from 8-9 am. Following Rounds, residents attend lectures given by faculty from 9-11:45 am. Several times per year, residents attend special educational events such as Visiting Professors Lectureships or selected named lectureships and conferences held within the Mount Sinai Health System or at other locations in the greater New York City area. Other areas important to the practice of ophthalmology are also covered in the curriculum, including ethics, professionalism, patient safety, quality improvement, and the business of medicine.

Orientation

A two-week orientation for PGY-2 residents takes place at the beginning of each academic year. During orientation, residents attend lectures in the morning and then see patients in the clinic during the afternoon to gain early hands-on experience. Clinical sessions for the first two months are limited in the number of patients assigned per PGY-2 resident so that there is adequate time for new residents to learn the elements of ophthalmic examination under the direct guidance of a faculty member. In addition to introductory lectures and skills sessions, the first-year residents also take part in surgical wetlabs designed to teach suturing skills.

All call is taken from home. Taxi reimbursement to and from Elmhurst Hospital Center and the Bronx VA is provided for call during off-hours. First call is evenly split among the PGY-2 and PGY-3 residents, with the PGY-4 residents providing back up assistance.  Faculty are on call for both anterior segment and posterior segment emergencies at each site. In July and August, PGY-2 residents take first call alongside senior residents in a buddy call system, so that all calls, regardless of complexity, are seen together by a PGY-2 and PGY-4 resident. Under the buddy call system, first-year residents receive direct supervision and develop the skills needed to handle ocular emergencies independently. PGY-4 residents are able to hone their knowledge and teaching skills, while still having attending physicians on call as back up should the need arise.

The goal of the first year of ophthalmic training is to attain a solid foundation in comprehensive ophthalmology, gain exposure to sub-specialty care, and receive an introduction to ophthalmic surgery. PGY-2 residents care for a large and diverse patient population under the direct supervision of our full-time and voluntary faculty. In addition to the comprehensive clinics, all PGY-2 residents begin sub-specialty training in cornea and external disease, glaucoma, low vision and rehabilitation services, neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology, ophthalmic pathology, and oculoplastic surgery. First-year residents also gain experience in seeing complicated in-patient consults and in handling all varieties of ocular emergencies. Surgical training begins with wetlabs held throughout the year and continues with graduated surgical experience as primary surgeons. During their PGY-2 year, residents perform anterior segment lasers and minor oculoplastics procedures, and they gain intraocular surgery experience by assisting the faculty and the third-year residents in the ORs.

Residents in their second year of training assume increased responsibility in the care of general and emergency patients and continue to expand on the complexity of their surgical training. In-depth training in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, medical retina, and ophthalmic pathology is the main focus of the PGY-3 year. Residents work one-on-one with our full-time ocular pathologist at the microscope, reviewing surgical specimens and study cases. Second-year residents perform strabismus surgery, posterior segment lasers, and intravitreal injections. Residents also begin phacoemulsification as primary surgeon in their second year.

Residents in their third year of training receive extensive experience in all aspects of anterior segment surgery and complex orbital and oculoplastics cases. Residents spend nine months out of the year as the anterior segment chief surgeon, three months at each of our training sites. Senior residents are able to compile a large volume of cases representing a wide range of pathology. Three months of the senior year are spent on the vitreo-retinal service, assisting on and/or performing retinal detachment repairs and pars plana vitrectomies. Third-year residents also assume a greater responsibility for teaching and mentoring the junior residents and medical students who rotate through our clinics.

The Department encourages residents to become involved in meaningful research during their residency. The ability to analyze and incorporate new developments into clinical practice is essential for the continuation of life-long learning beyond residency. Understanding and conducting research is an essential part of this process. Despite a demanding clinical and academic program, our residents have a strong tradition of pursuing research during their residencies. The Department also assists residents with funding to travel to present their research at national meetings. 

Residents who wish to volunteer their time and skills have the opportunity to serve the community on the local level or travel on a medical mission with Icahn School of Medicine faculty to Mongolia. Mount Sinai’s East Harlem Outreach Partnership provides free medical care to the community of East Harlem. Several of our residents, along with our Ophthalmology faculty and medical students, volunteer to deliver free eye care as part of this Partnership. Residents who wish to volunteer on a global level may accompany Mount Sinai faculty on an ophthalmic mission to Mongolia, which takes place each May. Residents and faculty work as a team to provide education and training to medical personnel at various facilities across Mongolia and to provide surgical care to Mongolia's underserved population. Topics of interest in community volunteerism and global health are also incorporated into the Ophthalmology Residency Program’s formal didactics.

The Program has been fully accredited since 1951. Our last full accreditation review occurred in December of 2010, when we received full accreditation for five years, the maximum period then allowed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), with no program citations. Since the ACGME’s implementation of the Next Accreditation System, we have received annual continued accreditation, with our next self-study visit scheduled for 2020.

All applications for the Residency must be submitted through the Central Application Service (CAS) of the San Francisco Matching Program. The deadline for receipt of materials from CAS is October 1. After all applications have been reviewed, invitations to interview are extended in late October for interview dates in late November and early December.