Category Archive: Ophthalmology

Basics of Fundus Drawing

Few ophthalmology residents today learn the art of color fundus drawing. This used to be a fundamental skill required by all ophthalmologists. With the advent of electronic medical records, wide angle fundus photography, and the never ending push to see more patients, the art has nearly died. However, there are a number of reasons why the art should not be ignored by ophthalmology residents; allow me to try and persuade you.

Why should I still be drawing the retina?

First, you will need to be able to read old medical charts; some of which have only fundus drawings without text descriptions of the retina. No matter what form of ophthalmology you practice, you will need to read and interpret these intricate fundus photography. Second, many retina specialists suggest that taking time to produce a proper fundus drawing is the best way to coerce residents and ophthalmologists into a proper, complete retinal examination. Retina specialists in particular have been known to spend more time on a colored pencil drawing of the retina than on the retinal exam itself. Finally, if you are at all interested in a retina fellowship, there are few better ways to impress your old-school retina faculty than to produce great fundus drawings. So, with that in mind, here is a quick primer.

The Fundus Skeleton

A true retina drawing will contain three concentric circles. The first represents the equator, the second represents the ora serrata, and the third represents the pars plana. There should also be 12 tick marks indicating each clock hour of the retina. (See a great example here). 

A Work of Art

Next come the colors. A normal retina should have a red hue and most ophthalmologists will color in the entire first two circles (out to the ora serrata) with a light red color. The image on the left is representative of how to draw most common findings in the retina. Feel free to download and print this image, I have found it very useful. Let's break up the details by color.

Color Fundus Drawing

Click for full size [large] image file


Any alteration in the choroidal pigment. Brown is usually reserved for a nevus or melanoma.


Any alterations in the retinal pigment including pigment mottling, lattice degeneration, dark retinal pigmentation (CHRPE), or laser scars.


A sign of fluid, blue can represent veins, sub retinal fluid surrounding a retinal tear, retinal or macular edema, or a frank retinal detachment.


As previously stated, normal retina is red and most ophthalmologist paint the entire fundus with a light red color. Arteries are also red and any retinal neovascularization is red as well. A darker red is used inside of a blue outline to demonstrate retinal holes or tears. 


Anything in the pre-retinal space. This includes media opacities, vitreous hemorrhage, pre-retinal hemorrhage, pre-retinal gliosis, epi-retinal membrane.


Exudative processes including retinal exudation, drusen, retinal scars, emboli, choroidal neovascular membranes.

Good Luck!

Top Ten Books for Ophthalmology Residents

This list is part of a series of articles about the best books for medical students. Click on the Med School Books Main Page to see other lists including the best books for each year in medical school, the best books for each clinical rotation, and the best books for USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3.

No one outside of ophthalmology can truly appreciate the breadth and depth of this specialty. Most doctors assume that it must be quite simple to learn everything you need to know about one small organ. Though I had been told this many times prior to ophthalmology residency, I was still shocked but the amount of pathology that occurs in the eye. With a few years of residency under my belt, I will try to answer the most important question: what are the ten best books for ophthalmology residents.

Let me preface this list by saying two things.

  1. To do well on exams (OKAPs, ABO Board Exam) I can not rely on books, but rather I rely on questions. I have previously written a review of Ophthoquestions, which I think is a fantastic online resource and has helped me prepare very well for OKAPS. So while the following books are important, I would not recommend studying for OKAPS without a question bank, either online or in print.
  2. Your attending physicians will tell you that you can not ignore the current literature. For a while I convinced myself that I did not have time or desire to read current journals. However, the longer I am in ophthalmology, the more I realize how effective it is to read through the top ophthalmology peer-reviewed journals. As a resident you will get the "Blue" Ophthalmology Journal at your home. It takes no more than 10-15 minutes to read the abstracts. You will learn a ton and stay up-to-date on what is important in ophthalmology
  • Updated May 2015

1. The Wills Eye Manual:

A great reference manual is a must for all ophthalmology residents. The Wills Eye Manual, or as I call it, The Bible, always has everything I need to complete a workup or start a treatment regimen. Some residents also enjoy The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Illustrated Manual of Ophthalmology. Both are good, just make sure one of them is in your bag when you take your first call.

2. The Basic and Clinical Science Course (BCSC):

I know what most of you are thinking…What? The BCSC is second? Sacrilege! It is true, the BCSC is a great resource, but I must put the Wills Manual first because of its universal utility. You can carry 15 BCSC books to the hospital with you every day. Most of you will get these from your residency program; if not, you should seriously consider spending the money for them.

3. Friedman's Review of Ophthalmology:

Friedman's is like the "First Aid Series" for ophthalmology. The book is full of high yield facts and pearls. It is surprisingly thorough and is a great resource to study prior to a subspecialty rotation or OKAPs. I have found, however, that reviewing the lists of facts presented in Friedman's is not very useful until you have a grasp of the concepts…something that will come from time in clinic and the BCSC series.

4. Nerad: Techniques in Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery

I will list a number of subspecialty texts in this Top Ten list, but not have I turned to more often than the Nerad text. This is the perfect book to prepare for oculoplastic surgery patients in the clinic and the OR. The night before every oculoplastic OR day I would read through the techniques of the upcoming surgeries and I was always very well prepared to learn in the OR and to answer most pimp questions that came up. I HIGHLY recommend this book. 

5. Last Minute Optics:

I previously wrote about Dr. Hunters free optics lectures. This is the text that parallels his free lectures. If you prefer written text over video lectures, this is the best optics book available. You can read it in a few hours and you will learn a surprising amount of clinical optics. It is perfect for last minute OKAPs studying or if you actually want to learn clinical optics but don't have much free time.

6. Chern: Review Questions in Ophthalmology

There are many great resources for ophthalmology residents looking for good questions. I have already written about the online questionbank, Ophthoquestions, which I highly recommend. There are also 50 questions at the end of each BCSC book, which are very good. As far as printed question books, the Chern book takes the cake. It has hundres of great questions and great explanations.

7. Chang: Phaco Chop and Advanced Phaco Techniques:

Every ophthalmology resident wants to become a safer, faster, more efficient surgeon. Dr. Chang is world renowned in his phaco technique and his ability to teach his phaco tecnique. I found this book to be incredibly useful as I approached my third year surgical rotations. It discusses general techniques and also advice for getting out of difficult situations. You really need to read about everything that can happen in the eye, because you will not see everything as a resident. 

8. Cornea: Krachmer, Mannis, Holland:

The last three suggestions I will make are large, dense, subspecialty textbooks. The BCSC series is simply not robust enough to help with difficult cases. A good cornea text or atlas is a must for all clinics as a reference. I have been very impressed with the organization and clarity of the Mannis text, though there are a few others. For a less dense option with beautiful photos, Krachmer has also put out his Cornea Atlas, which is full of great cornea photos.

9. Ryan's Retina:

A retina reference text is another must-have for residents and clinics. Most of you will have access to these reference books in your libraries or clinics. If not, consider purchasing one early in training so you can familiarize yourself with it and bring it with you to your private clinics after training. The Ryan text is very well known, but another great option is Gass' Atlas of Macular Diseases.

10. Walsh and Hoyt's Clinical Neuro-ophthalmology:

A final must-have reference is a great neuro-ophthalmology text. Remember, these are the issues that can kill ophthalmology patients. You will not always have fellows and neuro-ophthalmologists in the room next door and you will need a great reference book. The Walsh and Hoyt text is the favorite of most ophthalmologists. A Review


I realized early in medical school that, for me, the best way to learn is by doing questions. USMLE World and Kaplan's QBank got me through Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3. When ophthalmology residency started, I was relieved to hear about A much smaller pool of buyers (US and maybe UK ophthalmology residents) means the company can not have nearly the same profit margin as USMLE World and Kaplan. Nevertheless, I was quite surprised to see that the product was still very good. I have been VERY please with my experience, here are my thoughts…



  • The online format is unique in the field of ophthalmology. There are many great review books and question books to prepare for the OKAPs and the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) Exam, but nothing as portable and technologically savvy as ophthoquestions.
  • The questions are well written and parallel very well the questions on the OKAPs. I am told they also parallel well the questions on the written ABO Exam. Having not taken the ABO Board, I can not verify this.
  • For the most part, the explanations are detailed enough to learn the finer points of the pathophysiology without being overbearing. If anything, ophthoquestions errors on the side of being to succinct. They can do better at having more robust explanations. In this regard, USMLE World and Kaplan's Q-Bank are superior products. 
  • The questions are obviously written by subspecialists with knowledge in the specific fields, making the answer explanations very reliable.
  • If you do all the questions in the database you will be VERY well prepared for OKAPs
  • The price may seem steep (~$150 per year) compared to question books, but with 3,500+ questions nothing has the same amount of content


  • In my opinion, the current (May 2015) content on the site does not properly reflect to proportions of subspecialty content on exams. For example, and huge proportion of the ophthoquestions content is devoted to refractive surgery, while very little is devoted to uveitis. This does not reflect the content on exams, and certainly does not reflect the content that ophthalmologists should know.  Of course, you can simply not do all the refractive surgery questions, and this would solve the problem. 
  • The writers occasionally become defensive and personal when defending their questions and answers. I respect their opinions but I really don't think that a question bank is the place for defensive answers. 
  • If you do NOT complete all the questions in the database, the price (~$150 per year) is certainly very high. If you are only going to do a few hundred questions, you might as well purchase a question book like Chern: Review Questions in Ophthalmology


I am very pleased with my experience and recommend it to all new residents. It is the best product on the market for OKAP and ABO board preparation. It has some faults, but to be honest, not that many. I am not someone who will read the whole BCSC series, because I will never remember chapters and books. But the content in ophthoquestions is presented in a memorable and organized way that has CERTAINLY helped me do well on the OKAPs exams.


Some other ophthalmology review tools:

Hunter Optics Lectures and Last Minute Optics

David Hunter md phd

If you are a current or future ophthalmology resident, you should become familiar with the lectures produced by Dr. David Hunter MD PhD. He is the Chief of Ophthalmology at Boston Children's Hospital and has produced four, one-hour lectures that are incredibly high yield. I heard about these lectures before I took the OKAPs in-service exam during my first year of ophthalmology residency and I haven't looked back. Optics was, by far, my best score on the OKAPs my first year and I credit Dr. Hunter's lectures for the success. 

You can find all of his lectures on video, for free, on the Boston Children's Hospital website (link).  He has specifically said that he would love for everyone to have these lectures for free. Therefore, I will link to each of his lectures below. I have found that the above link occasionally does not work (usually in early March of every year, because we are all downloading from it). If you have issues, let me know and I can send you the files from my computer.

I really like the video lectures, however he has also published a book with the same content. Most of the residents in my program actually prefer the book because they feel like they can get through it faster and things are more clear when they read the book.  Whether you use his lectures or his book, the content is the same and it is fantastic. Take a few hours before the OKAPs to really learn this stuff, it will pay off in the long run.




Spotlight Interviews: What is a Transitional Year Residency?


A Transitional Year Resident's Perspective: An interview with a transitional year resident from the Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Part of an interview series entitled, "Specialty Spotlights", which asks medical students' most burning questions to physicians of every specialty. See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.


  • What is a transitional year residency?

Transitional Year (TY) residencies might be the least well known residency option after medical school. The TY is a one year residency with a general focus which prepares recent graduates for advanced residencies. To understand where a TY fits in, you must understand that there are a number of residency programs that do not start specialty training until the 2nd year after medical school graduation (i.e. PGY2). These specialties include anesthesia, dermatology, neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, radiology, radiation oncology, and ophthalmology.

Each of these residencies begin their specialty training after a resident's intern year. Many of these residency programs will combine the intern year (PGY1) with the advanced specialty training. In these cases, the resident will remain in the same residency throughout their training and there is no need to complete a transition year residency. However, there are programs in each of these specialties that do not start training their residents until the second year after medical school (PGY2). These programs require their residents to complete an approved intern year prior to beginning specialty training. Approved intern years include a year of preliminary medicine, preliminary surgery, preliminary pediatrics, or a transitional year residency.


  • How is a transitional year residency different from other intern years?

The goals of training are basically the same among all intern years; we all learn hospital based patient care. Surgical interns take care of patients before and after surgery in the hospital, medicine interns take care of medical patients in the hospital, pediatric interns take care of kids in the hospital. A transitional year resident will take care of all of the above. The transitional year aims to be a broad hospital-based training. TY residents will spend various months working on medicine, surgical, OB, pediatric, outpatient, ED, ICU, and elective rotations. The great asset of a TY is that it provides more flexibility, allowing residents to focus on their interests. I am interested in research and was able to complete two months of intense research during my intern year: something no one from an internal medicine, surgery, or any other residency could say.


  • Are Transitional Year Residencies easy?

Not all TYs are made equally. It is a well known fact that there are some pretty cush TY residencies out there. However, there are also some very difficult TYs. To illustrate this fact, last year I interviewed at a number of TY residencies of varying difficulties. The easiest one had 4 required inpatient months, one outpatient month, one ED month, and 6 electives. Sign out during inpatient months was 3pm. When you were in the ICU you covered 2-3 patients, and you were NEVER on call the entire year. In contrast, I interviewed at a big hospital TY where there were two MICU months where you covered 15 patients, 6 required inpatient medicine months, 2 surgery months, a busy ED month, terrible call, and three 'electives' which were all time consuming. In general, however, the answer to this question is yes. Transitional years are FAR easier than prelim surg residencies and quite a bit easier than prelim medicine residencies as well.


  • Is the training as good at a Transitional Year Residency?

Absolutely, if you choose the right place. Many months this year I have more free time than I did in medical school. I have found that with the free time I am actually reading and studying a ton. I think that you MUST take call to learn how to be a doctor during your intern year. I am not sure how you can become a 'well trained' doctor if you never take call during your intern year. Being on call at night is when you really have to make decisions and you really learn a ton. You don't need 11 months of inpatient work to become a great radiologist or a great ophthalmologist. However, 6 solid months of medicine/surgery will certainly prepare you for your next level of training. Then you can spend the other half of the year becoming great at something else: research, pediatrics, surgery, golf, sleeping, etc etc


  • Describe a typical transitional year schedule?

Everyone must do: 1 month in the ICU, 1 month ED, 1 month outpatient, 2 months general medicine. I believe the rest is up to the residency program. Most programs end up giving 3-5 months of electives.


  • What are the potential downsides of a Transitional Year?

Not many! More free time, less stress, more fun…what's not to like. I guess one downside is that it closes some doors if you choose to switch specialties. For example, if you were doing a preliminary medicine year at an academic center and decided you wanted to do medicine instead of anesthesia, the switch would be easier. After completing a TY year you can only go into the specialties I listed above.


  • How competitive is the Transitional Year match?

It is actually very competitive. There are not many spots, and they are all coveted because they represent less work, more free time, more electives, and a much easier year. Also, imagine all the applicants trying to get spots: future radiologists, ophthalmologists, radiation oncologists, dermatologists. This is not a list of ordinary applicants. Matching into a TY is about as hard as matching into radiology or ophthalmology.


  • What are residencies looking for in a Transitional Year applicant?

I asked my TY program director this exact question and this was his response: "We know we will only have you for one year. However, during that year the TY class will take care of about 50% of all the patients in this hospital. So, it is in the hospitals best interest to have someone who 1- will work hard without being asked, and 2- will maintain the great patient care that we have at the hospital." I think those two things are exactly what all programs want. I think item #2 may touch on competency a little bit, but is mostly referring to your interpersonal skills.


  • What should students look for in a Transitional Year residency?

Whatever you want to look for in a TY year. That sounds cliche, but as I said above, not all TYs are made equally. Do you want a chill year at the risk of missing out on training? You can find that. Do you want to do pediatrics as well as medicine and surgery? You can find that.


  • Is there anything you wish you knew before application season?

I interviewed at a few places that had both TY years as well as preliminary medicine years but the curriculum was exactly the same. In other words, if you match into the preliminary medicine year, you still have the flexibility that the TY residents at the same program have. All of these programs will let you apply to both the TY and the prelim med year after your single interview. These are great programs to find because even though there is no difference at all in the curriculum, the preliminary medicine years are a bit easier to get into.


  • What other advice to you have for students applying to a Transitional Year?

Good luck, intern year is exhilarating, fantastically rewarding, difficult, and very very short. Enjoy it. Read The House of God (amazon link), there is no better time than intern year. Also, watch the first season of Scrubs where the characters are interns…it is incredibly realistic!



Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the Match, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .


Physician Satisfaction by Specialty

The most recent installment of the Medscape Physician Compensation Report was recently published. Along with some of the best information on the web about physician salaries by specialty, the new Medscape report also reports which specialties are the most satisfied with their jobs (click here to view the entire Medscape Report). The results may surprise you. There is no correlation with salary and satisfaction.  The highest paid specialties (orthopedics and anesthesia for example) are found in the middle of the list while pediatrics, ID/HIV, and pathology are all found at the top of the list.  Interestingly, plastic surgery is–by far–the least satisfying specialty. So, the most competitive specialty is by far the least satisfying…that’s odd!


From the 2012 Medscape Compensation Report


My conclusions from the Physician Satisfaction Survey:

  1. The age old adage is correct: Money does NOT buy happiness.
  2. Just because a specialty is desirable to match into does not mean it is desirable to practice in [plastics].
  3. I can find only one thing that links the most satisfying specialties: LIFESTYLE.  If you look at dermatology, psychiatry, emergency medicine, infectious disease, pathology, and ophthalmology they have a great lifestyle in common. They all have minimal call, good salary (but they are not the big earners), and few emergencies.  They all lend themselves well to family, recreation, and other hobbies outside of medicine.


My unsolicited advice:

  • I am sure there are my internists and plastic surgeons who are very satisfied with their jobs. I would bet that they knew exactly what there were getting into before they choose their specialty. Satisfaction in the workplace has lots to do with managing your expectations (and the expectations of your family and friends!)  If you really love some of the specialties that do not have the best lifestyle, that is great, just make sure you know that this will be an issue before you go into he specialty. Once you have made that decision, you will not be shocked (and neither will your family/friends) when you work a lot more than those around you.

The Most Recruited Medical Specialties

Now that I am in the first year of residency I am beginning to think about landing that first real job.  As a Transitional Year resident I am heavily involved with the Internal Medicine residents at my hospital.  I found out very quickly that these internal medicine residents are HIGHLY sought after. In fact, many of them receive job offers on a weekly, or even daily basis.  The jobs that are in highest demand for internists are outpatient primary care and inpatient hospitality.  Many of my senior residents are being offered salaries between $200,000 and $300,000 along with many benefits including loan repayment. There are even some offers higher than $300,000 for less desirable locations! This is in a stark contrast to the ophthalmology job market that I will face, where starting salaries are low and it is terribly difficult to get your foot in the door.

Recently, I came across the Merritt Hawkins database.  Merritt Hawkins obtains information about starting salaries and benefits for newly graduated residents. I speak about their great physician salary database in my Ultimate Guide to Physician Salaries. However, their database also contains a list of the 20 most recruited specialties in medicine. The list may shock you!  The ability to find a well paying job right out of residency is NOT AT ALL correlated with the competitiveness of the specialty.  Case in point: family physicians and general internists are the two most highly recruited specialists in medicine!

From Merritt Hawkins


This list represents the Top 20 most ‘requested physician searches by medical specialty.’ The numbers represent the number of times Merritt Hawkins was used to recruit a person from the respective specialties (Merritt Hawkins full PDF including physician compensation data is available here for free). So, when you are deciding on a specialty, don’t forget that competitive does not equal good job placement.  In fact, many of the least competitive specialties are very high on this list (pediatrics, psychiatry, family medicine)

Spotlight Interview: Matching in Ophthalmology (Hopkins Resident)

An Ophthalmology Resident’s Perspective:

From an interview with an ophthalmology resident at Johns Hopkins University

Part of an interview series entitled, “Specialty Spotlights“, which asks medical students’ most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.


  • How competitive is the ophthalmology match?

Ophthalmology is pretty competitive. It is not as bad as plastic surgery, but it is one of the most difficult matches right now.


  • What are residencies looking for in a ophthalmology applicant?
The top programs are all academic institutions, so a good research foundation definitely helps. The field is small and well informed, they like to see early and/or definite commitment to the field.


  • What do you wish you knew before application/interview season?  

I did not know about the postings on studentdoctor network. If you go online to the studentdoctor network website during interview season you will see that there is a place where people post interview dates and times as soon as they get them.  There is usually also a calendar with all the interview dates listed.  If you can not find a calendar, make your own.  Often you will get interview invites and if you respond in more than a couple hours there are no more interview spots left. Check email every 3 minutes, you just have to do it. Respond to interview invitations within minutes of receiving email.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I cannot agree more with this advice.  Click here to go to the main SDN ophthalmology page. Click here to see the link to the ophthalmology interview thread from 2011.


  • What should students look for in a ophthalmology residency?

You will have to decide for yourself what options you prefer, but here are some of the most important questions when evaluating a program because they represent major differences and distinctions: location, small vs. large program (i.e. 3 residents per year vs. 8 per year), front loaded work and call vs. evenly distributed, home vs. in-house call, research faculty/area/time devotion/expectations, strength and notoriety of the faculty, training style (autonomy vs. faculty guidance), facility and equipment (new slit lamps? teaching scopes? etc), is there a VA, is the VA hours away or in another state, is the VA clinic resident run.  In my opinion, a strong resident run VA clinic is a must.


  • What other advice do you have for students applying to ophthalmology residency?

It’s early match so somehow you need to try out the rotation and decide early.  Once make a decision, you need to starting getting your application packet together early. Remember, they want to know that you are committed, this is hard to do because your application is due near the beginning of your 4th year.


Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the Match, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .


Spotlight Interview: Why Did You Choose Ophthalmology? (Hopkins Resident)


An Ophthalmology Resident’s Perspective: From an interview with an ophthalmology resident at Johns Hopkins University

Part of an interview series entitled, “Specialty Spotlights“, which asks medical students’ most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.


  • What attracted you to ophthalmology?

Ophthalmology is a high tech field. We use lights, lasers, and lenses. I like the microsurgery and there is a great balance of clinics and surgery. The surgeries that we perform are most often quite short.


  • Describe a ophthalmologist’s typical work day?

On clinic days we usually work from 8am until 5-6pm.  Surgery days usually start a bit early, around 7:30am, but they can be completed by 4:00pm.  Most ophthalmologists have 1 to 2 days in the OR each week with the rest of the time spent in the clinic.


  • What type of lifestyle can a ophthalmologist expect?  

Ophtho is the BEST lifestyle for surgical field. Simply compare it to ENT, plastics, ortho, urology, etc. Depending on practice setting, likely there will be call (to cover trauma, open globes, acute angle, etc) but it is manageable.


  • What is the potential salary of a ophthalmologist?

In metropolitan areas (if you can even find a job), you can expect to earn much less that in the suburbs or rural ares. You might expect mid to high 100s starting in general ophthalmology in an urban and desirable location.  If you are willing to move to the middle of nowhere, you can expect much more than that, upwards 300-400K.


  • What is the job market like for ophthalmology?

The market is saturated in most metropolitan areas. As I stated above, there is a need for the rural and some suburban areas.


  • What are the potential downsides of ophthalmology that students should be aware of?

Ophthalmology is very focused on one body part, and can even be focused on one layer of tissue (cornea!).  The other thing you have to be aware of is that the optometrists are constantly trying to take over everything that we do.


  • What else would you tell medical students who are considering Ophthalmology?

If you are interested, schedule a rotation early.  Also, you get to sit for surgeries!


Editor's Note: For more help choosing a specialty in medicine, I highly recommend one or both of these two great books. I found both very useful.


Spotlight Interview: Matching in Ophthalmology (OSU Resident)

An Ophthalmology Resident’s Perspective:

From an interview with an ophthalmology resident at The Ohio State University

Part of an interview series entitled, “Specialty Spotlights“, which asks medical students’ most burning questions to physicians of every specialty.  See what doctors from every specialty had to say about why they chose their specialty and how to match in their residency.


  • How competitive is the ophthalmology match?

Extremely competitive.  For foreign medical graduates (FMG) and second time applicants, chances of match are very slim. The overall match rate for ophthalmology is about 75%.


  • What are residencies looking for in a ophthalmology applicant?
They are looking for genuine interest in the field of ophthalmology demonstrated by rotation evaluations, Ophthalmology research, volunteering etc, and a highly competitive applicant. Outstanding applicants with high board scores and numerous class honors do not necessarily have to have as much ophthalmology related extracurricular involvement or research. However, if you are not a stellar applicant, early and evident interest is very important.


  • What do you wish you knew before application/interview season?  

I wish I knew which programs I was realistically competitive for. Other than the top 15-20 programs it is difficult to know where a program ranks and how good they are or aren’t without interviewing there.  Ask people who recently applied or find a faculty member who is willing to discuss these types of things.


  • What should students look for in a ophthalmology residency?

One of the most important things for me was finding attendings who enjoy teaching and enjoy resident interaction. A program that will help put you in a position to match in your desired fellowship is also very important. Learning about a residency’s job and fellowship placement is very important. Clinical and surgical experience, above all, are something that you must weigh. Surgical numbers should be above the national averages and especially above the minimum required amount.


  • What other advice do you have for students applying to ophthalmology residency?

Academic ophthalmology is a small world. A great letter from a prominent ophthalmologist is invaluable.


Editor's Note: Applying for residency or preparing for your interviews? I highly recommend First Aid for the Match, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, and The Residency Interview: How To Make the Best Possible Impression .


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