By Emma Wells
Scheie Vision Annual Report 2017
In the past several years, Scheie’s Ophthalmology Residency Program has significantly increased surgical volume for residents, while continuing to foster quality mentorship and teaching.
Dr. Paul J. Tapino, the Director of the Ophthalmology Residency Program and an Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, explained that the addition of an extra operating room in the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) has contributed to increased surgical volumes. “We were able to secure an extra operating room at the VA at least one day of the week,” said Dr. Tapino. “That opened up the opportunities.”
The extra operating room allowed for the addition of a second rotation for surgical senior residents. Dr. Tapino then worked with faculty members to reorganize the resident curriculum to accommodate the additional rotations.
There have been several other changes in the residency program that have bolstered the surgical learning experience for residents. Four years ago, the residency program acquired a surgical simulator, which trains residents in microsurgery and hand-eye coordination.
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Dr. Stephen Orlin added that residents have had exposure to using a new state-of-the-art laser housed at the VA Medical Center. The residency program also recently revitalized their wet lab, where residents practice suturing techniques and incisions on cadaver, animal, and synthetic eyes.
“Oftentimes the primary thing they want to get out of the residency, besides being in a top-notch academic program, is to have lots of practical hands-on experience,” said Dr. Orlin.
During their three years in the Ophthalmology Residency Program at Scheie, residents progress from the general eye examination through sub-specialty work. By the third year, residents perform increasing amounts of microsurgery, particularly cataract surgery. Dr. Orlin and Dr. Michael Sulewski, Chief of Ophthalmology at the VA Medical Center, guide residents through surgeries, ensuring a safe and quality learning experience.
“When we start training them, they do bits and pieces of cataracts, until we feel comfortable giving them more and more,” said Dr. Orlin. “Eventually they get to the point when they can do the whole case all on their own.”
Dr. Tapino explained that the bulk of surgeries are done in the third year of residency, but he and Dr. Orlin are interested in integrating more surgical training in the first and second years as well.
“When they come to third year, they should hit the ground running, having a number of cases under their belts,” said Dr. Orlin.
Dr. Orlin cites the high class academics and plentiful research opportunities as factors distinguishing the Scheie residency program. Dr. Tapino agreed, and added that an entirely full-time faculty committed to resident education sets Scheie apart.
“A priority of the faculty is resident education,” said Dr. Tapino.
Dr. Tapino also remarked on the outstanding teamwork and camaraderie among the residents.
“The residents all get along very well, and they’re very close,” said Dr. Tapino. “We try to foster an ‘I’ve-got-your-back’ mentality.”
When ophthalmology residents graduate from Scheie, they then have the option of beginning to practice comprehensive ophthalmology or specializing further. Residents often apply to fellowships in sub-specialties such as cornea, glaucoma, retina, oculoplastics, pediatrics, and neuro-ophthalmology. Scheie residents have an outstanding track record for matching with highly competitive fellowship programs nationally.
“All of our residents not only match into fellowships, but get their top choice, and if not their top choice, then their second choice,” said Dr. Tapino. “I think increasing the surgical experience makes them even more prepared for their surgical sub-specialties.”
Scheie residents also generate prodigious amounts of research after graduation. Scheie’s Alumni Clinical Trial Percentile (the number of grants/trials per alumnus in the past 15 years) ranks in the top 1% nationwide.
“Coming out of Scheie opens the door for them for their future academic and clinical careers,” said Dr. Orlin.
The supportive environment, committed faculty, high quality academics, and intensive surgical training in Scheie’s residency program combine to produce highly skilled ophthalmologists who go on to perform cutting-edge research and provide exceptional patient care.