The Ophthalmology Residency Program at the McGaw Medical Center at Northwestern University is under the leadership of Dmitry Pyatetsky, MD full-time faculty practicing at Northwestern Medicine and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago. Jeanine Baqai, MD, and Anupama Anchala, MD, full-time faculty also practicing at NM, both serve as the Assistant Program Director.
While many residency programs around the country have evolved as a patchwork of experiences and compromises, the Ophthalmology Residency Program of the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University has recently been revamped from the ground up, with resident education being the primary focus. The four-year program features a fully-integrated internship year that prepares the medical school graduate to become a physician by immersing the intern into an experience tailor-made for ophthalmology training. The integrated internship features just the right balance of clinical surgery, internal and emergency medicine and ophthalmology and includes a dedicated didactic curriculum throughout this important year of training. The residency highlights focused subspecialty rotations in each key discipline, with early subspecialty exposure being emphasized. PGY-2 residents rotate through neuro-ophthalmology, retina, pediatric ophthalmology, uveitis and ophthalmic plastic surgery. Also built into the program is the opportunity for residents to return to subspecialty training of interest. In addition, a structured surgical curriculum spanning the entire three years of training, a structured research program, an opportunity to take part in an international surgical elective rotation, as well as a separate PGY-3 three-week elective rotation and PGY-4 six-week “specialty” rotation driven entirely by the resident’s interest, are among the features that make the program so special.
Ophthalmology interns and residents rotate through the three institutions of the McGaw Medical Center: Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. Residents also rotate through a community clinic and private practices to experience all career options. Residents divide their time between outpatient clinics and inpatient activities, including surgery and consultations. A balance between supervision and autonomy exists, with progressive responsibility for patient care being emphasized.
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. The faculty mentors of subspecialty rotations are leaders in their respective fields and dedicated and experienced teachers with different approaches to evaluation and treatment. Exposure to subspecialty services occurs during the entire residency. Opportunity to return to a subspecialty at a more advanced training level exists for multiple subspecialties, including pediatric ophthalmology, retina, and ophthalmic plastic surgery. A three-week elective rotation in the PGY-3 year as well as a six-week “specialty” rotation also allows for residents to gain additional or unique experience in any area of interest.
Surgical experience begins in the first year of training during the general surgery rotations, and continues throughout the residency with every PGY-2 resident getting a chance to be the primary surgeon on plastics, strabismus, pediatric naso-lacrimal probings, laser and cataract surgery cases. Eyesi surgical simulator and wet-lab are available to facilitate surgical skill acquisition.
Cataract surgery training emphasizes the refractive aspect of this surgical field and includes annual Northwestern Phacoemulsification Course, plenty of primary surgical experience with toric and presbyopia-correcting intraocular lenses (IOLs), training in cornea-based surgical correction of astigmatism at the time of cataract surgery, training on several distinct varieties of phacoemulsification machines, and primary surgical experience on both the Catalys and LenSx femtosecond cataract surgery lasers.
The final part of the curriculum consists of a surgically intense senior year. Upon completion, each resident will have satisfied all the ACGME surgical requirements, including being the primary surgeon on more than 100 cataract cases.
Left Image: Resident Mohamed Gendy, MD in the operating room.
Right Image: Residents Jasleen Singh, MD (left) and Nataliya Danylkova, MD work together in the cadaver lab.
A three-week elective cataract rotation in Chandigarh, India is offered to second-year trainees. Residents typically perform 50 phaco procedures in a state-of-the-art surgi-center during this rotation.
Residents with the Grewal Eye Institute staff in Chandigarg, India.
The integrated internship features a dedicated ophthalmology intern curriculum that runs throughout the academic year and keeps the intern connected to ophthalmology training. During the PGY-2 – 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 6-12 weeks. Grand Rounds occur weekly. In addition, the Chicago Curriculum of Ophthalmology features two hours of lectures weekly by the best speakers from all of the city’s programs on Saturday mornings during the academic year.
Each Friday morning, 8:00 am - 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. Guest lecturers are frequently invited and annual interdisciplinary and bioethics conferences are held.
Residents participate in a Friday morning didactic session.
All residents participate in a clinical research project of their choosing, presenting project outcomes at the annual Northwestern Ophthalmology Research Day in June. Statistician support is provided for resident research and residents are encouraged to present their work at national meetings.
Dmitry Pyatetsky, MD
Jeanine A. Baqai, MD
Assistant Program Director
Anupama R. Anchala, MD
Assistant Program Director