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Many factors combine to distinguish the Ophthalmology Residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center as a leader in ophthalmology resident education:
- The program is associated with Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health, the leading academic health system in central Pennsylvania.
- The faculty of full-time ophthalmologists have expertise in all of the subspecialty areas in ophthalmology.
- The program size allows for ample opportunities to interact on a one-to-one basis with faculty.
- The patient population is interested in joining with faculty and residents to optimize their health care.
- The program is committed to provide the best in clinical and surgical education through direct patient care and a variety of innovative and effective educational programs.
Residents entering the program must have successfully completed a post-graduate clinical year (PGY-1) in a program accredited by the ACGME or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
- More than 15 full-time faculty with expertise in the major ophthalmic subspecialties (cornea; general eye care; glaucoma; neuro-ophthalmology; medical retina; oculoplastic surgery; ophthalmic pathology; pediatric ophthalmology; vitreoretinal surgery)
- Resident-focused program admitting three residents per year; no fellows
- Full ACGME accreditation
- Two clinical sites (Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for two-thirds of the program and Lebanon VA Medical Center for the remaining third)
- State-of-the-art facilities and equipment
- Optimum balance of medical and surgical training and resident autonomy and supervision
- Highly collaborative environment among faculty, residents and staff
- Supportive learning environment with ample opportunities to interact with faculty, fellow residents and medical students
- Innovative surgical training program with state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Center
- Access to dedicated resources on ophthalmology from Harrell Health Sciences Library
- Dedicated resident research experience (all residents have had their research accepted for presentation at ARVO)
- Exceptional fellowship match success at top fellowship programs
Learn More about the Residency
General Application Information
During enrollment, eligible applicants for the Ophthalmology Residency must apply through the Central Application Service of the San Francisco Match Program for Ophthalmology (SF Match), sponsored by the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. Applications are reviewed by members of the faculty and the residency program director. Interviews are then offered to outstanding candidates.
Prospective residents are evaluated based on their preparedness, ability, aptitude, academic credentials, communication skills and personal qualities such as motivation and integrity. While the USMLE score is a factor that is considered, the program does not have a set minimum score requirement. The application review committee looks at all aspects of an application to determine interview status.
The Ophthalmology Residency does not discriminate with regard to sex, race, age, religion, color, national origin, disability or veteran status.
Application Guidelines and Prerequisites
Applicants must also apply for a PGY-1 preliminary spot in Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, etc., through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) in addition to their application for a PGY-2 ophthalmology residency position through the San Francisco Match Program.
The program typically receives more than 100 times the applications as there are positions available (three).
MD and DO applications are both reviewed, as are those from international or foreign medical graduates, though the program only sponsors J-1 visas.
Because of Pennsylvania licensure requirements, applicants must complete University of Pittsburgh Child Abuse Reporter Training.
While the Ophthalmology Residency is not an integrated program, many residents complete their internship year at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center as well.
Oct. 1 is the deadline for applications. Interviews are conducted in November and December.
Penn State Health
Penn State Health is a multi-hospital health system serving patients and communities across 29 counties of Pennsylvania. Its mission is to improve health through patient care, research, education and community outreach.
In December 2017, the system partnered with Highmark Health to facilitate creation of a value-based, community care network in the region. The shared goal of Highmark and Penn State Health is to ensure patients in the community are within:
- 10 minutes of a Penn State Health primary care provider
- 20 minutes of Penn State Health specialty care
- 30 minutes of a Penn State Health acute care facility
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
500 University Dr., Hershey, Pa., 17033 (Derry Township, Dauphin County)
- The health system’s 548-bed flagship teaching and research hospital
- The only medical facility in Pennsylvania accredited as both an adult and a pediatric Level I (highest-level) trauma center
- Dedicated surgical, neuroscience, cardiovascular, trauma and medical intensive care units
- Accredited Life Lion critical-care transport providing more than 1,100 helicopter and approximately 750 ground ambulance transports per year
- More than 1,300 faculty members and more than 650 residents and fellows
- Approximately 28,500 admissions, 75,000 emergency department visits, 1.1 million outpatient visits and 32,000 surgical procedures annually
- Designated as a Magnet hospital three times
Penn State Health Children’s Hospital
600 University Dr., Hershey, Pa. 17033 (Derry Township, Dauphin County)
- A five-story, 263,000-square-foot-facility built in 2013
- Three-floor expansion opened in November 2020
- Level IV (highest-level) neonatal intensive care unit
- Level I (highest-level) pediatric trauma center designation
- Dedicated pediatric operating rooms
- More than 150,000 pediatric outpatient visits and approximately 5,000 pediatric patient discharges annually
Welcome to Hershey
More About Hershey
Interested in learning more about living and working in Hershey, Pa.? See details here:
Wellness, including emotional, spiritual, social and physical health, is a crucial component to training and to becoming a professional, compassionate and resilient physician. Self-care is a skill which must be continually practiced and reinforced. Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health are committed to addressing wellness among residents and fellows, with multiple resources readily available.
Graduate medical education resources
Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine celebrate, embrace and support the diversity of all patients, faculty, staff, students and trainees.
Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In keeping with this, Penn State Health has an active Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with various programs, networks and resource groups, including:
- Regular talks and lectures on diversity, equity and inclusion
- Periodic town halls on topics such as eradicating racism and creating a culture of inclusiveness
- An allyship support group
- Many affinity resource network groups, including:
- Disability Affinity Resource Network Group
- Group on Women in Medicine and Science
- Interfaith Affinity Resource Network Group
- LGBTQ and Allies Affinity Resource Network Group
- Military/Veterans Affinity Resource Network Group
- Multicultural Affinity Resource Network Group
- A new organization specifically for trainees, the Network of Underrepresented Residents and Fellows
Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education
The vision at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health is to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need to provide culturally excellent health care and research for an increasingly diverse U.S. population. The Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education was formed to help meet that goal.
Office for a Respectful Learning Environment
In addition, the institution does not tolerate discrimination, biases, microaggression, harassment or learner mistreatment of any kind, and any concerns are immediately addressed by the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment.
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
500 University Dr.
P.O. Box 850
Hershey, PA 17033-0850
The first two years of residency training are split between general and subspecialty ophthalmology. Subspecialty rotations include cornea and external diseases, glaucoma, pediatric and neuro-ophthalmology, oculoplastics and retina. Experience in general ophthalmology as well as optometry practice is gained through rotations on emergency room/hospital consultation services at Hershey and through general ophthalmology outpatient clinic practice at the VA Medical Center in Lebanon. Goals and objectives have been set for each subspecialty rotation and post-rotation evaluations are conducted with each resident to ensure that the residents are achieving the stated goals.
During the subspecialty rotations, the residents accompany the faculty to the operating room one to two days per week. This provides valuable surgical experience in the first two years of training and facilitates participation in the pre- and post-operative care of their patients.
The final year of training consists of four months at Hershey and eight months at the VA Medical Center. Two senior residents are always scheduled at the Lebanon VA Medical Center, and one senior resident is always scheduled at the Hershey site. The majority of Class I cataract surgeries are performed at the Lebanon VA Medical Center under the direct supervision of faculty members. In addition to the outstanding clinical and surgical experience available at the VA Medical Center, senior residents have the opportunity to develop administrative and teaching skills. The senior resident rotations in Hershey are focused on development of surgical skills through experiences in the hospital OR and Hershey Outpatient Surgery Center. The senior residents also care for pre- and post-operative patients in the clinics of faculty ophthalmic surgeons and see their own patients in the comprehensive ophthalmology clinic, which is held weekly.
First- and second-year ophthalmology residents take call, on average, every sixth night and every sixth weekend. Weekend call extends from Friday at 5 p.m. through Monday morning at 8 a.m.
Third-year residents take secondary/surgical call every third week.
A faculty member is assigned on-call responsibilities on a weekly basis and provides appropriate supervision for all residents.
To ensure that residents are achieving success in the areas of medical knowledge, patient care, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, practice-based learning and improvement and systems-based practice, the Ophthalmology Residency utilizes a variety of methods.
Resident performance is assessed primarily through direct observation and evaluation by members of the faculty. Other methods include evaluations by medical students and patients, performance in the Case-Based Learning in Ophthalmology (CBLO) series, the Ophthalmology Skills Assessment Program (OSAP), Ophthalmology Clinical Evaluation Exercises (OCEX), Simulated Oral Boards in Ophthalmology (SOBO) and performance on written examinations, including the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP).
Resident performance is evaluated by the faculty following each rotation. Each of these evaluations examines the resident’s performance in the six general competency areas. The residents meet individually with the residency program director twice a year to review their performance on the rotations, discuss their research projects, and review their progress in meeting self-set six-month goals. Residents must present the findings of their research projects at the annual Penn State Eye and Vision Research Day event, which is attended by eye and vision researchers throughout the institution.
A variety of conferences are available to Ophthalmology Residency trainees.
Basic and Clinical Science Conference Series
The Basic and Clinical Science Lecture Series is held Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 to 8 p.m. It serves as the core curriculum of the Ophthalmology Residency. Conferences cover a broad range of ophthalmic topics including ophthalmic pathology, optics, cornea/external diseases, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, pediatric ophthalmology, oculoplastic and orbital diseases, retina, intraocular inflammation and uveitis and ocular physiology.
Surgical Skills Workshop
The goal of the Surgical Skills Workshop is to promote discussion on the indications, complications, and operative techniques for common ophthalmic surgeries. Surgical Skills Workshop is held monthly in conjunction with Surgical Morbidity Conference. The residents and a faculty moderator discuss common ophthalmic surgical procedures and techniques and develop a step-by-step algorithm to facilitate resident performance of the surgery. Use of surgery simulation models and wet lab experiences also help to enhance surgical skills.
Resident Orientation Program
The Resident Orientation Program was developed following a mini-retreat with the ophthalmology residents and the residency program director. It introduces the first-year ophthalmology residents to the residents, faculty and staff of the Eye Center. The emphasis of the orientation is on history and eye examination skills. New residents are also introduced to common ocular emergencies and on-call responsibilities. Orientation is coordinated by the chief residents to promote the role of the chief residents as teachers.
Ethics in Ophthalmology
The Ethics in Ophthalmology seminar is presented semi-annually and is jointly sponsored by the Eye Center and the Department of Humanities. Topics for discussion include informed consent, patients’ rights, clinical and basic science research, the impaired physician, co-management, advertising and others.
Educational Activities Outside the Department
Each year, residents may have the opportunity to attend meetings or courses such as the Wills Eye Review Course, the Armed Forces in Pathology course and the annual meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the Association of Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO).
Resident Honors and Recognitions
Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center accept ongoing nominations for the Exceptional Moments in Teaching award.
The award, given monthly by the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment, accepts nominations from College of Medicine students who are invited to submit narratives about faculty members, residents, fellows, nurses or any other educators who challenge them and provide an exceptional learning experience. See more about the award here.
Previous nominees from the Ophthalmology Residency are listed here. Click the + next to a nominee name to read their nominator’s comments.
The annual Resident/Fellow Research Day is held each summer on and around the Penn State Health Milton S. Medical Center campus in Hershey, PA.
The intent of the event is to provide an opportunity for residents and fellows to showcase their research accomplishments to their peers in other clinical departments, as well as their colleagues in the basic sciences.
Previous presentations from the Ophthalmology Residency are listed here.