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Aims, Wellness & Program Overview


Residents gain experience in all major subspecialties, including cornea and external disease, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, ophthalmic plastic surgery, ophthalmic pathology, pediatric ophthalmology, uveitis, low vision, contact lens, refractive surgery and surgical and medical retinal disease.

Our Program Aims Include:

  1. To recruit high-achieving diverse ophthalmology resident candidates with a proven record of academic accomplishment, leadership, and social service.
  2. To create and maintain a supportive culture of professionalism and resident wellness.
  3. To utilize the elective rotations to develop an individualized residency experience for each trainee in order to broaden the capabilities of the graduating residents and to maximize the yield of residency training.
  4. Provide a training environment that fosters and encourages the practice of evidence-based medicine and scholarly endeavors while encouraging quality improvement and patient safety.
  5. To prepare residents to be lifelong learners, educators and leaders.
  6. To train excellent ophthalmologists who are well-prepared for both comprehensive clinical and surgical practice and subspecialty fellowship training, as well as careers in both academic practice and private practice settings.

Learn more about the program below.

Resident Wellness

Jeanine A. Baqai, MD, Residency Wellness Chair


Meet Jeanine Baqai, MD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Northwestern.

Find more on counseling and psychological services for residents via the McGaw website.

The goal of our wellness curriculum is to promote wellness and decrease resident burnout by promoting resident resilience and decreasing stress. At Northwestern, resident wellness is a top priority. We strive to foster an environment of wellness in the ophthalmology department through education of and discussion with faculty, staff, and trainees. Our goal is to provide a supportive environment for residents while they develop the skills and knowledge to become outstanding ophthalmologists

  • Faculty mentoring for each resident
  • Biannual resident events sponsored by department
  • Discounted memberships to local gyms
  • Monthly debriefing meetings with the residency program director to freely communicate concerns
  • Careful monitoring of duty hours, proper management of fatigue
  • Confidential counseling available to all residents and fellows struggling with any adjustment issues, depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns

Wellness Toolkit

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Residency Surgical Curriculum

Surendra Basti, MDSurendra Basti, MD discusses aspects of the residency surgical curriculum, including the India rotation and the annual phacoemulsification course.






Clinical Curriculum

 PGY-1 (Internship)




Didactic Curriculum

ophthal-didactic.svgDuring the PGY-2 to PGY-4 years, the learner-centered, case-based, 18-month-long didactic curriculum cycle consists of several hours of weekly sessions. Material is presented in focused blocks, each ranging from six to 12 weeks. On Fridays, 8 a.m. to noon is dedicated to classroom learning. The didactic curriculum includes Grand Rounds case conferences, specialty lectures, retina imaging conferences and small-group problem-solving sessions.

On Saturdays during the academic year, the Chicago Curriculum of Ophthalmology offers two hours of lectures weekly featuring the city’s best speakers.

See the corresponding accordions below to learn more about the skills covered in each block.

Didactic Curriculum Topics

 Neuro Ophthalmology

  • Neuroradiology 
  • Neurology
  • Neurology - Facial Pain, Headaches  
  • Ischemic optic neuropathy / GCA
  • Papilledema
  • Transient Vision Loss
  • Eyelid and Orbit
  • Chiasmal and retrochiasmal disorders
  • Diplopia, Nystagmus, Central Eye Movement Disorders
  • Pupils
  • Myasthenia / Ocular Myopathies
  • Other optic neuropathies (nutritional, traumatic, compressive, retinopathy, etc.
  • Combination, systemic conditions
  • Hallucinations, Disorders of Higher Cortical Visual Function
  • Neuro-Ophtho Jeopardy


  • Uveitis basics and approach, exam tips, anterior uveitis
  • Posterior uveitis, panuveitis, "white spot syndromes", intermediate uveitis and scleritis.
  • Therapeutic approaches and drugs.
  • Problem based cases.
  • Complicated uveitis cases.


  • Benign and Malignant Skin, Lid and Orbital Tumors: Diagnosis, Management, & Surgical Reconstruction
  • Epipthora and Nasal Lacrimal System Abnormalities: Anatomy, Etiology, Diagnostic Techniques, Treatments & Surgical Procedures
  • Pediatric Ophthalmic Plastics: Congenital Lid and Orbital Anomalies and Syndromes
  • Cosmetics: Facial Analysis, Lid and Facial Procedures/Orbital Trauma/Fractures
  • Eyelid Malpositions: Entropions, Ectropions, Ptosis, Lid Retraction: Etiology, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Surgical Techniques Anatomist's Perspective: Development and Anatomy of the Lids, Orbits, & Eyes
  • Pathology of Lid and Orbital Tumors


  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Macular Degeneration; other causes of Choroidal Neovascularization
  • Retinal Toxicity, Vitreoretinal Interface, Laser Treatment of the Retina
  • Peripheral Retina, Retinal Detachment, Vitreoretinal Surgery, Intravitreal injections
  • Ocular Oncology
  • Hereditary Retinal & Choroidal Dystrophies and Degenerations,
  • Electrophysiologic Testing
  • Retina Pearls


  • Vertical & Special Forms of Strabismus
  • Optic Disc Abnormalities
  • Amblyopia / Vision Development / Basics of Strabismus
  • Esotropia / Childhood Nystagmus
  • Pediatric Ptosis & Lacrimal Disorders
  • Pediatric Infectious & Allergic Ocular Disease
  • Pediatric Retina Minisymposium
  • Pediatric Cataract & Corneal Disease
  • Iris Abnormalities
  • Intraocular Childhood Tumors
  • Phakomatoses
  • Exotropia / Pattern Strabismus
  • Inborn Errors of Metabolism / Genetic Diseases


  • Pathology of the Cornea
  • Pathology of the Conjunctiva
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious conjunctivitis
  • Bacterial keratitis
  • Fungal keratitis
  • Herpes Simplex/ Zoster Keratitis
  • Non inflammatory thinning disorders I
  • Non inflammatory thinning disorders II
  • Cornea trauma mechanical
  • Cornea trauma chemical
  • Ocular surface reconstruction
  • "Fuchs Dystrophy: Past, Present and Future"
  • Diagnosis and management of ocular surface tumors
  • Update on Corneal Surgery
  • SLK, CLK, Thygeson keratitis
  • Dry eye
  • Scleritis/ Episcleritis/Immune-based sterile corneal ulceration
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Peripheral corneal disease
  • Pediatric corneal opacity


  • Intralase didactic
  • Overview of laser based refractive surg and its complications -
  • IOL calculations following refractive surg
  • Intralase wetlab
  • Visx Didactic and Visx Wetlab


  • Glaucoma Classification
  • Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
  • Optic Disc and Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer Examination
  • Advanced Imaging
  • Pathology
  • Perimetry
  • Secondary Open-Angle Glaucomas
  • Primary Angle Closure
  • Secondary Angle Closure Glaucomas
  • Gonioscopy
  • Laser Surgery For Glaucoma
  • Iridotomy
  • Iridoplasty
  • Trabeculoplasty
  • Cyclophotocoagulation
  • Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery
  • Developmental Glaucomas
  • Aqueous Humor Outflow
  • Aqueous Humor Production
  • IOP Measurement
  • Corneal Thickness
  • Medical Therapy For Glaucoma
  • Glaucoma Clinical Trials
  • EMGT
  • OHTS
  • Incisional Surgery For Glaucoma
  • GLT
  • FFS
  • AGIS

Resident Research Curriculum

slide1.jpgThe goals of our research curriculum are to teach our trainees a foundation in the scientific method, develop the skills to critically review and interpret scientific literature, and provide the necessary information and framework to complete a high quality research project.

Our curriculum includes didactic experiences, interactive journal clubs, and a structured timeline for research progress. Our didactics cover the scientific method, statistical analysis, grant writing, the electronic data warehouse (a tool to interact with the electronic health record via specific queries), the institutional review board (IRB), research compliance, ethics, and an introduction to different research study designs. These experiences are intended to provide the background information that is necessary to design a research study, get IRB approval and grant funding, execute the study, and appropriately analyze the results.

The journal clubs are focused upon the design of research studies and the validity of the results. Rather than focus on the information learned from the manuscript discussed, our journal clubs offer an interactive environment to teach our residents how to critically dissect a manuscript, decide if it is applicable to their patient populations, and how to implement the results into clinical practice. Furthermore, this process should be illuminating for future manuscript preparations of their research projects.

Our structured research experience includes a discrete timeline for our residents to execute their research thesis. The timeline includes selecting a mentor, choosing a project, finding an advisory committee to help with project development in a small group setting, proposing the project at our research grand rounds for department level feedback, applying for IRB approval and grant funding, executing the project, presenting the interim results at research day, submitting the results to research meetings, writing and publishing the manuscript, and presenting the work at international and local research meetings.


International Experience

Through our partnership with Grewal Eye Institute in Chandigarh, India, we provide a robust cataract surgical experience. This optional surgical rotation introduces the resident to delivering ethical, high-quality care to a socioeconomically challenged sector of the population.

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