Message from the Chairman

On behalf of our faculty and residents, I want to thank you for your interest in our residency training program. Albany, the capital of New York State and the second oldest incorporated city in the United States, is located about 140 miles north of New York City.  Albany has easy access to international and domestic air and rail services, and well-maintained highways & roads. Our city has been designated an All-American City,  a distinction of being a safe and livable community. Recreational and cultural opportunities abound in the Adirondacks, in the Catskills, and in Western New England, all only a short drive from the hospitals.

Albany Medical College was founded in 1839 and Albany Medical Center is the only academic medical center for more than 100 miles in any direction. Our patients often come great distances for care. Residency and fellowship programs are available in a wide variety of medical and surgical specialties; a medical internship has been designed specifically for incoming ophthalmology residents to include extra elective time and exposure to the eye clinics.

The Department of Ophthalmology has been training residents continuously since 1965. Robert Reinecke, a future president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, first brought the department to national prominence in the 1970's. We currently train three residents per year, with our primary emphasis being the preparation of excellent comprehensive ophthalmologists. A little more than half of our residents have undertaken subspecialty training, matching at some of the most prestigious fellowship programs in the full range of ophthalmologic subspecialties. Many have gone on to academic careers throughout the country and internationally. Although there are from two to four fellows affiliated with the department, they do not compete with residents for training and, indeed, function more like junior faculty.

The structure of our training program emphasizes the gradual assumption of independent responsibility in both the examining lanes and the operating rooms. The first year includes primarily general ophthalmology. In the second year, subspecialty training is introduced in oculoplastics, neuro-ophthalmology, glaucoma, and pediatric ophthalmology. In the third year, residents spend most of their time in retina, cornea, and cataract surgery. A prolonged orientation program with supervised call is designed for incoming residents, and no resident is permitted to operate without supervision. Residents have more than ample surgical training, and our residency was granted a five-year accreditation renewal by the ACGME in 2011. Our residents' performance on the ABO and OKAP examinations reflects the breadth of the training they have received.

We like to think of our small department as a family. Residents are always welcome to bring issues of concern to the faculty, including the Residency Program Director, Dr. Robert Schultze, or to me. We nurture comfortable collaborative relationships among residents and between residents and faculty. Faculty members evaluate residents at least twice during each rotation and provide informal feedback more frequently. Residents, in turn, formally evaluate every aspect of the training program (including anonymous assessments of faculty) at biannual retreats, and suggestions for improvement are implemented regularly. A monthly resident meeting attended by senior faculty is another opportunity for resident input.

Residents are expected to attend a full schedule of didactic and continuing education conferences, to present cases in rotation at case conferences, and to prepare a research project for discussion at an annual research conference during the second and third year of residency.

Many residents have taken their research projects to national meetings. With the help of our Lions affiliation, the department regularly funds resident trips to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and to subspecialty meetings. Our faculty includes current or former presidents of national subspecialty societies in pediatric ophthalmology, cornea, and ophthalmic pathology, as well as a member of the American Board of Ophthalmology and the former director of the national Board examination. All have dedicated their careers to training residents.

We look forward to getting to know you better during the resident selection process.

Sincerely yours,

John W. Simon M.D.
Professor and Chairman