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Inaugural Virtual Residents’ Day Held June 12th

Date Posted: Friday, June 12, 2020

Ophthalmology Residency Program’s Inaugural Virtual Residents’ Day was held on the morning of June 12th, 2020. This event was originally going to take place at the Medical School where faculty, staff, and community members, could gather and highlight the past year of educational activities of our residents Dr. Saad Al-Kadhi and Dr. Soraiya Thura. However, a virtual experience replaced the in-person occasion due to the current pandemic’s social distancing recommendations. Transitioning to a virtual engagement allowed many others to join without having to leave their homes or their offices.

Department Chair Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD, MHCM opened the day with a look back over the past year to express her appreciation of not only the resident, but the whole program. She recounted how there was no template for a program when she spoke to the RCC. It was the vision for the program to be approachable and accessible for everyone. She emphasized how Dr. Thura and Dr. Al-Kadhi reflected the program’s mission.

Dean Flotte led an inspiring introduction the day. Dean Flotte was an instrumental member of the administration in support of creating this brand-new residency program. He acknowledged the journey that Program Director Misha Faustina MD, FACS well as Dr. Schaal had to endure to see that this program would be created. He admired how quickly they got the program accredited but also completed three residency interviews within 6 months. Shifting gears, he highlighted the residents’ ability to quickly pivot during the time of a pandemic and focus on patient care in a new working environment.

Dr. Johanna Seddon and Dr. Claudio Punzo from our own Ophthalmology and Visual Science Department presented on their research.  Dr. Seddon spoke to the innovation and perseverance of the residents during their first year which paralleled her own journey of research over the last thirty years. (Dr. Seddon’s speech click here) Dr. Punzo discussed the mystery of cone and rod death with Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Invited guest speaker Dr. Lana Rifkin of New England Eye Center and Tufts School of Medicine presented on how to provide the best quality care to Uveitis patients while not allowing the bill to skyrocket. Her pearls of wisdom peppered throughout the presentation resonated with attendees.

The residents followed covering their scholarly activity and research they’ve done for the past year. the Dr. Thura reviewed a need for standardized processes during retinal injections. She also presented on several topics including a Uveitis paper she co-authored and a poster she presented in Puerto Rico at Envision Summit. Dr. Al-Kadhi gave an overview of the patient attendance rate at our ACC location and how applying different measures can reduce missed or cancelled appointments. They will continue their research on these topics throughout their residency program years.

Dr. Faustina’s closing address praised the residents for their hard work and thanked all those involved who helped get the program off the ground. This program has been a dream she worked hard to achieve and couldn’t have done it without the help of the UMass family.

Dr. Priya Janardhana was recognized as the first Educator of the Year. The residents elected her due to her impassioned educational mentorship. She welcomed the residents and assisted in Grand Rounds preparation, OKAP review, and other teaching activities.

Dr. Joann Chang, site director from D’Ambrosio Eye Care, finished the morning with an enthusiastic greeting from all the community ophthalmologists that assisted with the education of the residents. She congratulation them on their accomplishments and looked forward to working with them and the new incoming residents soon.