The program in action
At the University of Calgary, we aim to train well-rounded comprehensive ophthalmologists, competent in all subspecialties of ophthalmology. Our goal is to provide a stellar learning environment where residents can learn from each other and their staff. Residents who graduate from our program will be strong both clinically and surgically and will be able to work independently without relying on subspecialists to co-manage their patients.
The University of Calgary offers a five-year, fully accredited, comprehensive training in Ophthalmology with subsequent eligibility for the Royal College specialty examination. During the first year, the resident(s) will rotate through medical and surgical disciplines related to Ophthalmology followed by four core years in Ophthalmology with graded responsibility. Note that changes to the curriculum may come beginning 2023 as the Royal College implements Competency by Design in the ophthalmology sections across Canada.
During the first year, residents will complete both medical and surgical rotations to help build a broad clinical background prior to commencing the core Ophthalmology rotations.
Rotations are 4 weeks long (or split 2 and 2) and fall within the following areas: Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, ENT, Pediatrics, Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Neuroradiology, Neurology, Infectious Disease and Ocular Pathology. During these rotations residents also attend a surgical skills course with other surgical subspecialty residents to enhance their abilities and understanding of basic surgical techniques offered by the Department of Surgery. Our PGY-1 year dedicated block of Ocular Pathology is unique in Canada and provides residents with time to read through Eagles textbook while getting one-on-one teaching from Fellowship Trained Ocular Pathologists.
At the conclusion of PGY 1 year, residents are sent to the national TORIC course located in Toronto for 6 weeks to learn the fundamentals of Ophthalmology prior to starting their PGY 2 year.
The PGY-2 year is focused on learning the basic Ophthalmological skill set. Residents will rotate through the Urgent Eye Clinic for a total of 6 blocks. The remainder of the year will be spent rotating through subspecialty clinics and gaining early surgical exposure.
Residents will rotate through the following Subspecialties for the remainder of the year:
- Cornea and External Eye Disease (1 month)
- Glaucoma (1 month)
- Oculoplastic Surgery (1 month)
- Neuro-ophthalmology (1 month)
- Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (1 month)
- Retina (1 month)
At the start of PGY-3, residents have the privilege of attending the 4-weeks-long Bay Area Ophthalmology Course (BAOC) on the Stanford Campus in California. This course has evolved over the years and now involves deep dives in more complex clinical entities and multiple wet labs to improves residents' surgical abilities.
After, the PGY-3 and PGY-4 are a continuity of each other and provide the residents with the core subspecialty teaching. Residents will rotate through senior blocks in order to consolidate their knowledge, procedural skills and surgical skills. These rotations include the following:
- Cornea and External Disease (3 months)
- Glaucoma (3 months)
- Pediatrics (3 months)
- Oculoplastics (3 months)
- Retina (3 months)
- Neuro-Ophthalmology (3 months)
- Electives (3 months)
Surgical training commences in dedicated fashion in the 4th year. An introductory 1 week course on Cataract Surgery is hosted by recent graduates of the program yearly to help transition to the surgical component of residency. The unique agreement with Non Hospital Surgical Facilities in Calgary allows for residents to complete a substantial number of Surgical Cases. Our average resident will be able to hit 750 Full cases of Cataracts.
Once the resident has been deemed competent with cataract surgery, they can use the remainder of their surgical year to expand their skill set and tailor it to their future practice. Residents pursuing sub-specialty training can spend time with that respective discipline to perfect their skills for fellowship. Residents can also use this time to revisit skills they feel less comfortable with.
The final 8 weeks of the PGY-5 year is dedicated study time for the Royal College. On top of that, residents have the opportunity to attend a 1-week review session of their choosing.
In the Urgent Eye Clinic, the Ophthalmology resident will be exposed to a diverse array of common and rare visual complaints. It is expected that the resident will learn to take an appropriate history, become proficient in examining the patient with the standard equipment used by an ophthalmologist and order/evaluate the appropriate tests.
The resident will be expected to create an appropriate differential diagnosis and prepare a treatment plan. Any surgical cases derived from the clinic (trauma or ruptured globe) will be followed through by the resident for continuous experience. In the afternoon, dedicated time can be used to shadow technicians to learn how to perform basic ancillary testing such as OCT, B-Scan and Visual Fields. The afternoon can also be used to attend subspecialty clinics at the RGH Eye Clinic or used for research. Common procedure during this block include:
- Removal of a corneal foreign body and a rust ring at the slit lamp
- Collection of corneal cultures
- Incision and drainage of a chalazion.
- Laser Peripheral Iridotomy
- Various oculoplastic procedures (e.g. canthotomy / cantholysis)
Our center houses 3 high volume oculoplastic surgeons, and we are blessed with the unique strength of having a robust ocular oncology program as well. Residents obtain early exposure to the range of common oculoplastic procedures in their junior rotation, and accumulate large volumes of blepharoplasties, ptosis repair, biopsies, and familiarity with the fundamentals of cosmetic practice in the senior rotation.
Calgary is also home to two oculoplastic fellows at any given time, which augment the learning experience.
Staff : Dr. Karim Punja, Dr. Ezekiel Weis, Dr. Michael Ashenhurst
The University of Calgary provides a robust, multidisciplinary training program in pediatric ophthalmology. At the Vision Clinic in Alberta Children’s Hospital, residents work with pediatric ophthalmologists and orthoptics to become proficient in performing pediatric vision evaluations, extraocular muscle mobility assessments, cycloplegic and manifest examination, and stereopsis testing.
By the end of the senior rotation, residents will be familiar with performing common procedures such as strabismus surgery and nasolacrimal duct probings. Quarterly Pediatric Journal clubs provide a forum for keeping updated on the latest literature in the field.
Staff : Dr. Stephanie Dotchin, Dr. Lisa Lagrou, Dr. Vivian Hill, Dr. Ugo Dodd
The University of Calgary is home to a world-class cornea service. This rotation consists of both clinical and surgical experiences designed to equip residents in both diagnosing and managing diseases of the external eye and cornea. Residents have ample and varied learning opportunities ranging from taking part in the care of rare congenital defects such as Peter’s anomaly to applying the latest medical and surgical treatments for more prevalent disease such as Fuch’s Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy.
Alongside the four leading cornea specialists in Calgary, the resident will be involved in pterygium repair, superficial keratectomy, corneal cross-linking, PKP, DSAEK and DMEK surgeries as well as therapeutic and refractive laser-based procedures.
Staff : Dr. Ahmed Al-Ghoul, Dr. Jamie Bhamra, Dr. Adam Muzychuk, Dr. Peter Huang
The University of Calgary has an excellent Glaucoma teaching program, which has recently started fellowship training as well. This rotation includes both clinical and surgical training from 4 well respected surgical Glaucoma specialists. Residents on this rotation receive significant hands-on training in both the clinic and OR starting in their junior rotation.
In the clinic, in addition to patient examination, diagnosis, and management there is also designated time to learn and develop laser skills including LPI, SLT, and laser suturlysis. In the OR our preceptors provide a supportive environment for hands-on anterior segment surgical training including, but not limited to trabeculectomy, drainage implant surgeries, angle based surgeries, and preliminary cataract training. Recently the program also had a wet lab to introduce residents to minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS).
Staff: Dr. Patrick Gooi, Dr. Bryce Ford, Dr. Andrew Crichton, Dr. Jonathan Wong
The University of Calgary has a highly robust medical and surgical retina program. Residents spend most of their time working through diverse consults with the vitreoretinal surgeon on call and assisting with cases in the operating room. While on rotation and on general call, residents have the clinical support of two Retina Fellows, who teach extensively. Hands-on surgical experience is still a priority, and residents scrub in on +75% of cases while the fellows are assigned to other areas.
We boast 6 vitreoretinal surgeons and a handful of staff who practice medical and paediatric retina extensively. Their training incorporates perspectives from centres including Bascom Palmer, Wills, Weill Cornell (Lincoff), Iowa and Moorfields. Academically, residents present and discuss approaches to complex problems at monthly Retina Rounds, and there are ample opportunities for research.
Unique highlights of the program include seeing impressively high volumes of interesting and rare pathology, and exposure to a very high number of scleral buckles and complex surgeries. The rotation accommodates significant flexibility towards residents’ interests, including opportunities to immerse in medical and diagnostic retina, the Multidisciplinary Ophthalmology-Rheumatology Uveitis Clinic, and our Retinopathy of Prematurity Program.
Staff: Dr. Amin Kherani, Dr. Geoff Williams, Dr. Patrick Mitchell, Dr. Feisal Adatia, Dr. Paul Savage, Dr. Kevin Warrian
The University of Calgary boasts 3 internationally renowned, Neurology-trained Neuro-Ophthalmologists. This rotation is clinic based and residents will learn the fundamentals of the afferent and efferent examination. From neuroretinitis to carotid-cavernous fistulas, residents will be exposed to a plethora of rare pathologies.
The resident predominantly examines the new patients and reviews the case in depth with the staff. Neuro-Imaging is reviewed for each case. Furthermore, residents receive teaching once per month during the Neuro-Ophthalmology rounds. This Neuro-Ophthalmology rotation is one of the strongest in Canada.
Staff: Dr. Fiona Costello, Dr. Suresh Subramaniam
Residents participate in a research project in PGY 2-5 and their results are presented at the annual departmental Ophthalmology Research Day. Residents will be encouraged to present papers and posters at national and international meetings, and can receive support for these endeavours.
There are dedicated faculty to support research as well as staff who will assist in data collection, and statistical analysis. Residents have approximately 1 half day of protecting time for research per week.
Conferences & Review Courses
Option to attend seven weeks of basic science didactic teaching is offered through the Bay Area Ophthalmology Course, a four week course hosted by Stanford, California, USA.
Residents are encouraged and supported to attend the Canadian Ophthalmological Society Annual Meeting, American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting, Sally Letson Symposium (Ottawa), Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta Annual Meeting (Banff), Southern Alberta Retina Retreat, Brandon Ophthalmic Surgical Course, Toronto Cataract Course, and review courses such as those offered in San Antonio. Some funding for residents is available to aid in attending these courses and conferences.
Academic Half Days are scheduled on Friday Afternoon. The academic half day schedule follows the Basic and Clinical Science Course Manuals from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The curriculum has been redesigned to focus and highlight the material most important for the Royal College Examination. Wetlabs are incorporated into certain half days.
Grand Rounds will be held each Friday (September to May) from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and residents will be required to present with an assigned staff member. Academic seminars and didactic teaching will be held weekly on Friday afternoons.
In addition to regular seminars, there will also be Interesting case rounds, Journal Club meetings, subspecialty rounds, and surgical teaching held for the residents.
CORP has a robust Visiting Professor program that attracts leaders in their field. In the past 5 years, our roster of visiting professors has included Dr. Davinder Grover (co-inventor of the GATT procedure), Warren Hill (creator of the Hill-RBF lens calculator) and Dr. Jeffrey Liebmann (a principal investigator on the OHTS III Trial) amongst others. Visiting Professors are invited to present at Grand Rounds and subsequently provide a three-hour teaching session for the resident group.