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UMass Medical School launches ophthalmology residency program

Front: Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD; Misha Faustina, MD
Back: Gabriel Luna, MD; Dan Yoon, MD;
Haijiang Lin, MD, PhD; Hemant Khanna, PhD;
Priya Janardhana, MD; Juan Ding, OD, PhD;
Justine Grier, OD; Claudio Punzo, PhD

The Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at UMass Medical School has announced the launch of an ophthalmology residency program, recently approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

“We are committed to exceptional resident education,” said Misha Faustina, MD, FACS, assistant professor of ophthalmology & visual sciences and director of medical education for the department.

Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD, chair and professor of ophthalmology & visual sciences, said the residency program is key to fulfilling the academic mission.

“UMass is a great medical school, with very bright medical students, who deserve the chance to be introduced to one of the most exciting fields in modern medicine, which is ophthalmology,” Dr. Schaal said. “Our department is very strong in many areas, especially in research, and I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to provide superb clinical training that will also involve exposure to vision research. This combined clinical and research philosophy is missing in many ophthalmology programs nationally, and it may distinguish us from others.” 

The objectives of the program are to provide comprehensive clinical training in all aspects of medical and surgical ophthalmology and to create an atmosphere and enthusiasm for discovery and service. Two resident physicians will be added annually.  At the start, all applicants must complete a post-graduate year of prerequisite training in an ACGME-approved program prior to beginning ophthalmology residency positions. As the ACGME shifts to a four-year ophthalmology training program, UMMS is poised to offer an integrated internship in future classes.  Applications are being accepted for the July 2019 and July 2020 classes.

The Association of American Medical Colleges has reported the need for an additional 6,000 ophthalmologists by 2020, and more than 130,000 doctors by 2030.  Schaal said she hopes the new program will help to fill that need for ophthalmologists in the Worcester area.

“The Worcester community is in great need of a new generation of ophthalmologists. Having a training program right here in Worcester will result in highly trained graduates, who may choose to stay in our area and serve our community,” she said. “I hope that our very best graduates will take on the challenge, commitment and honor of serving as academic ophthalmologists, and will remain with us as faculty members at UMass Medical School.”