The University of Ottawa offers a five year comprehensive training program in ophthalmology, leading to eligibility to write the Royal College speciality examination in Ophthalmology. The program features three main training sites: The University of Ottawa Eye Institute (world-class tertiary eye center), Riverside Eye Care Centre (community ophthalmology) and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (tertiary pediatric hospital).
Residents rotate through a wide variety of services relevant to ophthalmology, including plastic surgery, ENT, emergency medicine, pediatric emergency medicine, ICU, neuroradiology, neurology, endocrinology and general internal medicine. There is a 4-week ambulatory block where residents personalize their training by organizing their own clinic schedule with preceptors from diverse services. Over the course of their PGY-1 year, residents will spend 6 weeks in the Emergency Eye Clinic to gain exposure to general ophthalmology. At the very end of the year, all PGY-1 residents attend a 6-week basic science course in ophthalmology called the Toronto Ophthalmology Residency Introductory Course (TORIC).
Residents will spend this year involved in ambulatory care of eye patients at the University of Ottawa Eye Institute and Riverside Eye Care Centre. On a typical day, the residents participate in subspecialty teaching clinics in the morning. In the afternoon, residents are scheduled in the high volume emergency eye clinic to acquire exposure to diverse ophthalmic pathologies. The program also features a Diagnostics rotation where the residents have dedicated time to learn about ophthalmic imaging (e.g., OCT, Optos, A- and B-scans, IOL
Master, visual fields and ultrasonography), contact lens fitting and the management of low vision patients.
The third year of training features a comprehensive rotation (totalling 20 weeks) in pediatric ophthalmology during which residents cover all aspects of this subspecialty. It is truly an immersive experience. Residents will also participate in a high volume of strabismus surgeries. The remainder of the year involves gaining proficiency in general and subspecialty clinics including glaucoma, anterior segment, retina, uveitis and neuro-ophthalmology.
The highlight of this year is a five-month rotation focused on cataract surgery based at the Riverside Eye Care Centre. It is expected that residents will become progressively more independent with the steps of cataract surgery. The residents will also gain exposure to glaucoma, cornea, oculoplastic and vitreoretinal surgeries. Residents will continue to further their clinical skills in various subspecialties of ophthalmology.
In the final year of residency, residents will function at an advanced level on different subspeciality services as well as gain the opportunity to experience community practices. Residents will have ample opportunities for electives outside of Ottawa tailored around their subspeciality interests, or areas they would like to further develop their skills. Residents will also be given protected time to study for the Royal College examination scheduled for May/June of their final year.
Residents have many opportunities to give back and help improve the program. Each residency year has a representative on the Residency Training Committee (RTC), which meets regularly with Faculty. The Postgraduate Training Committee meets monthly to discuss all issues pertaining to the residency program. Changes are implemented as needed to address the changing needs and requirements of the residents. Key faculty and all residents are invited to participate.
Mentorship is an integral part of the program and is viewed as an important factor in the success of the residents. UOttawa Ophthalmology’s formal mentorship program pairs residents with a faculty mentor whom they meet with longitudinally throughout their residency. Attending physicians and residents also form many informal mentorship relationships. The program takes pride in the approachability and commitment of the attending physicians who make up the department.
The new wellness program includes online modules, workshops three times per year in areas selected by resident polling, a wellness journal, as well as a resident wellness retreat, one of the highlights of the year. The department also has a Resident Wellness Lead, with training in peer support.