Columbia Ophthalmology Residency — Innovation and New Opportunities
“In the beginning of March, our New York–area residency program directors were bracing for the spread of a novel coronavirus that was easily transmissible and deadlier than the flu,” said Royce Chen, MD, the Helen and Martin Kimmel Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Columbia University Medical Center and Attending Ophthalmologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Chen also serves as the Residency Program Director for the Department of Ophthalmology at Columbia. “In the midst of a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment, we wondered how we could both protect our residents and continue the educational missions of our departments.”
Through the spring, Ophthalmology residency program directors and residents gathered through teleconferencing, developed distinct teams of residents who cared for inpatient and emergency room consultation patients and separated them from outpatient clinics, and used teleconferencing platforms to deliver lectures.
“Since mid-March, we have shared more than 45 lectures across institutions, and many have been attended by residents from different programs,” said Dr. Chen. “Our trainees now have access to more ophthalmic didactics than they did before COVID-19.”
“We also developed risk-stratification guidelines to determine if patients needed to be seen in person or could be deferred,” said Dr. Chen. “Simultaneously, we built telemedicine programs in accordance with new Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education guidelines to allow residents to connect with anxious patients who did not require an in-office visit.”
“This pandemic has presented all of us with unprecedented challenges, but it also has provided us with a rare opportunity to innovate and collaborate side by side with our trainees,” said Dr. Chen. “Going forward, resident didactics will be altered, for the better. Remote conferencing has proven so valuable in this time that we will continue lectures in this format after the COVID-19 crisis. Continuing in the spirit of collaboration, our New York-area programs are developing a citywide core education curriculum with focused subspecialty talks given by faculty from different institutions. This curriculum will serve as a foundation for all programs; individual institutions will provide supplemental didactics to their trainees.”
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