Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Eye Center sees over 80,000 patient visits per year, providing an ideal environment for resident clinical experience.
Our program includes a continuous care clinic, inpatient consultation service at a Level I trauma center and high-volume surgical experience.
Subspecialty rotations are held in the mornings (where residents work side-by-side with attending subspecialists in all major areas), and then a continuous care clinic, the Comprehensive Eye Service, is held in the afternoon.
First-year residents have one-month subspecialties during the first year, allowing them to gain more familiarity with all areas of ophthalmology early in training. The second-year rotations are more intensive, and residents are expected to function with a higher level of expertise.
One unique feature of the program is a continuous care clinic, the Comprehensive Eye Service (CES), in which residents care for their own population of patients for the entire three years of their training.
This general outpatient service allows residents to manage patients much like a community ophthalmology practice, following their patients longitudinally for the duration of their training period.
The CES provides an ideal opportunity for clinical teaching and is supported by supervising faculty, staff and Eye Center facilities.
Past residents have consistently placed high value on their CES experience, which they often describe as one of the “crown jewels” of our residency program. They say it promotes the development of the clinical skills needed to “hit the ground running” immediately after residency, whether for private practice or fellowship.
Residents learn ocular manifestations of systemic disease firsthand as they participate in the busy inpatient consultation service, working with faculty in the evaluation of patients from the various medical and surgical services at the Medical Center.
Trauma experience is exceptional: The Medical Center is a designated Level I trauma center, and the Eye Center is a member of the National Eye Trauma System (NETS).
The training program is busy medically and surgically. More than 32,000 major ocular surgeries are performed by faculty, residents and fellows each year. These procedures include a full array of both outpatient and inpatient procedures performed in the operating rooms of the Medical Center.
Almost 800 additional procedures are performed yearly in the minor operating suites of the Eye Center itself.
With this volume of surgical experience, residents have an opportunity to perform many surgical procedures, far exceeding recommended minimums set by the American Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). For instance, residents currently perform 250 to 300 cataract procedures as primary surgeon during their training (with a set minimum of 86 by ACGME).
One-third of the residents’ training takes place at the W. G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury, NC, a 45-minute drive from the Wake Forest Eye Center.
Many residents live just south of the town, thus shortening their commute. Most of the time residents carpool.
During our annual reviews, residents unanimously state that the drive to the VA is “worth the effort” given the high volume of surgical and medical experience at the VA hospital. This was also reflected at our Annual Graduation Ceremony, where the residents presented Dr. Altemare the Wake Forest University Eye Center Residents Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award is given to faculty members for their inspiring, challenging and effective teaching methods, and to those whose concern and respect is evident both in and out of the clinic and teaching environment.
Resident Schedule and Responsibilities
During the first year of training, residents spend four one-month rotations at the VA. As second-year residents, they spend two two-month rotations. Senior residents rotate through a continuous cycle, allowing each senior resident a full operating day each week at the VA.
Residents’ clinics are busy, with many comprehensive and cataract patients as well as glaucoma and retina subspecialty consultations.
Junior residents perform many laser, intraocular injection and minor procedures. The VA hospital has a full optometric service, which means that patients encountered at the VA clinics are essentially prescreened for pathology. This is especially true for patients who have cataracts. A high percentage of patients initially encountered at the ophthalmology clinic continue with the resident for cataract surgery. About 70 percent of resident cataract surgery is performed at the VA.
On Call Responsibilities
All call is from home.
First- and second-year residents participate in the night float service, so on average, you will spend 6 weeks spaced through the year taking night call.
Senior residents take "second call" and thus are on call on average one of every four nights for backup call. Senior residents are expected to come to the Eye Center after hours as needed (admissions, emergent procedures or when the junior residents have clinical questions).
Faculty coverage is available at all times, and faculty staff supervises all trips to the operating room, both scheduled and unscheduled.
Each resident is required to pursue a clinical research project of his/her choice under the supervision of a faulty person, and encouraged to publish at least one paper in a peer-reviewed journal before the training program can be considered to have been successfully completed.
Residents are given specific instruction in presenting case reports and scientific papers, and they benefit from superior audiovisual services for academic and scholarly pursuits. Each resident is sent to at least one Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the department also fully sponsors residents who have papers accepted at national meetings.