FAQs

Where do Harvard Ophthalmology residents complete their internship?

As of July 2021, our PGY-1 residents will do a transitional intern year at Newton Wellesley Hospital, with three months of Ophthalmology. Because our program is truly integrated, residents will be part of Mass Eye and Ear for four years. The match is for a four year program, via the SFMatch. There is no need to match via the NRMP match. Learn more

How many residents are in each class? 

Eight

Do residents rotate to a VA hospital? 

Yes. Each year, the residents rotate to the Boston VA Medical Center for a 6-7 week block. Senior residents rotate to the Togus VA Medical Center in Maine for an additional 6-7 week block.

What is the night-float system? 

Junior residents cover the Emergency Department with a night-float system for 6 nights in a row, from 6pm to 8pm. 

While on night float, residents have no clinical responsibilities during the day. The seventh night is also covered by junior residents on a rotating schedule. Again, when covering a night shift in the Emergency Department, residents do not have clinical responsibilities either the day before or after.

How much call do residents take? 

Residents do not take overnight, in-house calls. The Emergency Department is covered by the night-float system. In addition, junior residents work shifts on weekend. Intermediate residents take call from home on some of their rotations. Seniors take call on specialty rotation as well as for Ocular Trauma.

Is there orientation? 

There is a one-week formal orientation at Mass. Eye and Ear for all incoming residents, with no other clinical responsibilities during that time. Residents learn about benefits, health screening, etc., and they receive formal instruction in the basics of ophthalmology (introductory lectures and sessions, learning how to use equipment) from the chief resident and clinical attendings. 

Is there a wet lab? 

A fully-equipped wet lab is available to residents 24 hours a day. Practice eyes (human) are available from the New England Eye Bank, and pig eyes are ordered routinely. There is a structured surgical curriculum in which each resident undergoes multiple sessions in the wet lab, as part of our Innovation & Interaction series as well as individually with faculty members on each rotation

Are there didactic sessions? 

There are many didactic sessions throughout the year: Friday morning lecture series (two lectures each Friday covering all topics for all residents), Grand Rounds every Thursday, Chief Resident Rounds for juniors three days per week, subspecialty rounds (slit lamp rounds, pathology rounds, macula conference, etc.), and OKAP review sessions.

In addition, there are several yearly events, including the Chandler visiting professorship, Residents’ course, and the annual cataract course (held in May or June for intermediates).

What is the Chief Resident’s role? 

The Chief Resident is a recent graduate from the program who has teaching, clinical care, and administrative responsibilities. He or she: 

  • Serves as a liaison between the residents and faculty for all resident issues 
  • Leads didactic sessions for junior residents three days per week and covers topics from the academy series 
  • Supervises residents in the operating room as they perform their first pterygium and cataract surgeries 
  • Directs the Eye Trauma Service and repairs all ruptured globes with senior residents and sees trauma patients in clinic two days per week with the residents 
  • Is always available as a backup to the senior resident in the Emergency Department 
  • Has a number of administrative responsibilities, including making resident clinical rotation schedules, organizing and inviting guest speakers for Grand Rounds, organizing the Residents’ course, and serving as a member of the Residency Steering Committee and Residency Selection Committee.

Do residents need to purchase a full set of instruments? 

No. Residents receive a set of examining lenses upon arrival. Gonioscopy lenses, indirect ophthalmoscopes, muscle lights, color plates, diagnostic lenses (90D, 20D), etc., are also available in the clinics and Emergency Department. Many residents choose to use their education fund to purchase some of these items. 

Are the attendings approachable?

Absolutely. Each resident has an attending mentor. By the end of training, most residents have developed close relationship with their attendings.

Is there a forum to present issues affecting residents? 

The Residency Steering Committee meets monthly to discuss all issues pertaining to the residency. Many changes are implemented regularly to address the changing needs and requirements of the residents. Key faculty and all residents are invited to participate.

Do residents have access to Harvard University? 

Yes. All residents receive the academic appointment of “Clinical Fellow in Ophthalmology” at Harvard Medical School and can get an ID card from Harvard University. The ID card gives access to all Harvard libraries, museums, and the Wellness Center. Residents may purchase an annual membership to use Harvard’s athletic facilities.

Is there a library? Is there access to electronic journals? 

The Howe Library at Mass Eye and Ear has an excellent collection of ophthalmology journals and books. In addition, residents have access to all of the Harvard University libraries, including the Countway Library of Medicine. Lastly, all residents can register with “eCommons” to access Harvard University’s vast collection of electronic journals.

Is there any time for electives? 

During senior year, there is a six to seven week elective block designated for a rotation at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India. This intensive cataract surgery experience, which more than half the seniors choose, offers an opportunity to see unusual cases. Those who do not go engage in clinical or research projects at Mass Eye and Ear. The Residency Steering Committee must approve the plan for the elective. Residents that travel to India for their elective are given a fund for travel expenses.

Are there any opportunities to attend national meetings? 

Residents are encouraged to present at national meetings and receive funding to attend one meeting per year if they are presenting as first author. Residents do not have to take vacation time if they are presenting as first author. Each year, about half of the residents present at the ARVO Annual Meeting. In addition, residents receive funding to attend one meeting during their residency without presenting. Most of the senior residents choose to attend AAO or ASCRS.

How will fellows affect my surgical experience? 

Clinical fellows are an asset to the residency program. Most basic surgical procedures are done by residents. Fellows are primarily involved in advanced surgical procedures and are invaluable teachers. Each year, the residents chose one “Fellow of the Year” who receives an award at graduation for exemplary teaching.

What have recent graduates done after residency? 

After residency most of the graduates enter fellowship training in one of the many subspecialties areas at top training programs. One resident each year serves as the chief resident. Others perform research or work as general ophthalmologists in academic settings or private practices. Over the years, a few residents have pursued interests outside of ophthalmology, such as business school or working for a biotechnology company.

Is research required? 

Research is not required, but many residents choose to work on clinical or basic science projects with the faculty. Residents learn about research opportunities through an annual Faculty Research Showcase and have protected research time built into their schedule across three years.

What is the publication requirement? 

All residents are required to publish one paper during their residency. Most residents meet this requirement by participating in the Residents’ Course, where they write a review article with a preceptor from the faculty.

What kinds of publications do residents publish? 

Review articles from the Residents’ Course are typically published in International Ophthalmology Clinics. In addition, many residents publish case reports, clinical research, and basic science research papers in peer-reviewed journals such as OphthalmologyAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology, IOVS, and Archives of Ophthalmology.

Where do most residents live? 

Residents live in many places, including: 

  • The Charles River Park (a number of apartment and condominium complexes within a five-minute walk from the hospital)
  • Beacon Hill (historic area adjacent to Mass Eye and Ear)
  • Back Bay
  • Cambridge
  • Brookline
  • Newton

Residents who live farther away usually take the subway (the “T”) or drive to work and park at the Mass Eye and Ear lot.

Do I need a car? 

No. Boston is a compact city and most places (including Mass Eye and Ear) are accessible by subway. The Charles/MGH subway stop is a two-minute walk from the hospital. If residents do have a car, parking at the hospital can be available, depending on residential distance from the hospital. Residents are provided a transportation fund to pay for transportation needs, including ride-sharing, public transportation and parking.