The roots of the ophthalmology Residency Program at the Cleveland Clinic trace back to 1935, at which time the first official ophthalmology resident began training. In 1949, the Residency Program received ACGME certification, typically training two or three residents per year.
In 1976, the Cleveland Clinic ophthalmology residency program was expanded to its current complement of four residents per year under the transformative leadership of Froncie Gutman, MD (Department Chair, 1969-1991), a renowned retina specialist and former President of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He appointed Roger H.S. Langston, MD, a fellowship-trained cornea specialist, as the first Residency Program Director, a position which he held for 25 years of his forty year career at the Cleveland Clinic.
In 1994, under the tenure of Dr. Gutman’s successor, acclaimed retina specialist Hilel Lewis, MD (Department Chair, 1993-2008), the Cole Eye Institute as an entity was born. Following a multi-year fundraising campaign, in 1999 the ophthalmology department was relocated to the building now known as the Cole Eye Institute, a 130,000 square foot state-of-the-art outpatient facility in which research, clinical care, and education are seamlessly integrated.
In 2001, Elias I. Traboulsi, MD, MEd, a fellowship-trained pediatric ophthalmologist and board-certified geneticist, succeeded Dr. Langston as the Residency Program Director, further elevating the reputation of the program as one of the premier academic institutions in the nation.
In 2008, Daniel F. Martin, MD (Department Chair, 2008-present), an internationally-recognized retina and uveitis specialist and leader of numerous landmark clinical trials, was appointed Chairman of the Cole Eye Institute. Under his leadership, the Cole Eye Institute solidified its standing as a top-ten ophthalmology department in the United States and increased its reach and reputation to unsurpassed heights.
In 2014, Jeffrey M. Goshe, MD, a fellowship-trained cornea specialist and former Chief Resident of the Cole Eye Institute, succeeded Dr. Traboulsi as Residency Program Director. During Dr. Goshe’s tenure, a year-long pre-surgical training program was instituted and resident surgical experience was prioritized, reflected by resident surgical volumes soaring into the top 10% of programs nationally.
MetroHealth Medical Center
The Cole Eye Institute has partnered with Cuyahoga County MetroHealth Medical Center for more than twenty years to provide ophthalmologic care to residents of the greater Cleveland metropolitan area. Cole Eye Institute residents spend approximately one third of their residency rotating at MetroHealth, spread across the three years of clinical training. The ophthalmology service is structured as a resident-run clinic in which residents are supervised by experienced comprehensive and subspecialty physicians covering the entire spectrum of ophthalmologic care. A number of Cole Eye Institute staff physicians are dually credentialed at MetroHealth Medical Center, providing educational continuity and further reinforcing the symbiotic relationship between the two institutions.
Our residency program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and fulfills all requirements of the American Board of Ophthalmology.
Rebecca Chen, MD
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Tanner Ferguson, MD
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Austen Knapp, MD
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Leanne Little, MD
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Kevin Wang, MD
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Rachel Anderson, MD
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Kevin Keppel, MD
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Keegan Mechels, MD
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Megan Steinkerchner, MD
- Medical School: The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences
2020 Graduating Residents
- Jessica Cao, MD: Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship-Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute
- Daniel Petkovsek, MD: Glaucoma Fellowship-Wills Eye Institute
- Yue (Carrie) Zhao, MD: Glaucoma Fellowship-University of California San Diego
- Andrew Zheng, MD: Uveitis Fellowship-Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute
2019 Graduating Residents
- Rachel Chen, MD Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship-University of Colorado
- Ang Li, MD: Glaucoma Fellowship-Duke University
- Robert Purgert, MD, PhD: Glaucoma Fellowship-Wills Eye Institute
- Tan (Lucy) Xu, MD: Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship-Emory University
2018 Graduating Residents
- Waseem Ansari, MD: Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship-Retina Consultants of St. Louis
- Sruthi Arepalli, MD: Uveitis Fellowship-Casey Eye Institute
- Alexander Barnes, MD: Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship-Emory University
- Daniel Cherfan, MD: Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship- University of British Columbia
2017 Graduating Residents
- Brandon Baartman, MD – Cornea/Anterior Segment and Refractive Surgery Fellowship
Vance Thompson Vision; Sioux Falls
- Daniel Feiler, MD – Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship
University of Iowa; Iowa City
- Preethi Ganapathy, MD, PhD – Glaucoma Fellowship
Duke University; Durham
- Vishal Parikh, MD – Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellowship
The Retina Institute; St. Louis
2016 Graduating Residents
- Maria Choudhary, MD – American Society of Ophthalmic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship
Center for Facial Appearances; Salt Lake City
- Joseph Griffith, MD – Pediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus Fellowship
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Philadelphia
- Nathaniel Sears, MD – Glaucoma Fellowship
Jules Stein Eye Institute; Los Angeles
- Adam Weber, MD – Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Fellowship Baylor College of Medicine; Houston
2015 Graduating Residents
- Katie Hallahan, MD – Cornea, Refractive and Anterior Segment Surgery Fellowship
Baylor College of Medicine; Houston
- Priyanka Kumar, MD – Pediatric Ophthalmology Fellowship
Emory University; Atlanta
- Tal Rubinstein, MD – American Society of Ophthalmic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship
Aesthetic Eye Associates; Seattle
- Jack Shao, MD – Associate Staff
Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic; Cleveland
Cole Eye Institute residents spend the majority of their time at Cleveland Clinic main campus, rotating among the division's subspecialty services:
- Cornea and External Disease
- Medical Retina
- Ophthalmic Oncology
- Ophthalmic Plastic, Reconstructive and Orbital Surgery
- Optometry and Contact Lens
- Pediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus
- Refractive Surgery
- Uveitis, Ocular Inflammatory Disease, and Immunology
- Vitreoretinal Surgery
The rotation schedule provides balanced exposure to all subspecialty areas of ophthalmology, ensuring a well-rounded training experience. Each resident receives substantial one-on-one training from core faculty members. This format provides the optimal environment for studying complex disease processes and their medical and surgical management. This structure also allows residents to spend time performing thorough examinations and developing independent management plans without the pressure of being responsible for seeing every patient in a busy clinic.
Approximately one-third of the training program is spent at MetroHealth Medical Center (MHMC), the largest county hospital in the Greater Cleveland area as well as a Level I Trauma center. Rotations at MHMC include general ophthalmology and all subspecialty services. Residents also rotate at Stephanie Tubbs Jones (STJ) Health Center during the PGY-3 year. Both MHMC and STJ operate as traditional “Resident-Run Clinics”, in which residents are the primary providers of patient care, both medical and surgical. Staff supervision is always available, and residents are granted graduated autonomy based on comfort level and experience.
The proportion of time spent in surgery versus the clinic increases throughout the course of residency. On average, PGY-2’s spend 10% of their time in the OR, PGY-3’s 30% and PGY-4’s 50%. Upon graduation, residents are fully prepared to function as skilled general ophthalmologists or transition to any subspecialty fellowship.
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Surgical training at the Cole Eye Institute begins well in advance of a resident’s first case as primary surgeon. In 2013, the Timken Microsurgical Education Laboratory was established and became a formal addition to the pre-surgical curriculum. Jeff Goshe, MD, a fellowship-trained corneal surgeon and the Residency Program Director, serves as the laboratory’s chief instructor. The lab is additionally attended by a rotating group of approximately six to eight comprehensive and subspecialty-trained Cleveland Clinic staff ophthalmologists. On Wednesday mornings from September through June, all first year residents spend four hours per week in the 600-square-foot space located on the first floor of the Cole Eye Institute, learning advanced microsurgical techniques from Cole Eye Institute ophthalmologists using the latest technology in ophthalmic surgical education.
Residents participate in a wide variety of specialty laboratories, including:
- Advanced phacodynamics including Phaco Chop
- Amniotic membrane transplantation
- Corneal and conjunctival suturing
- Extracapsular cataract extraction
- Eyelid laceration repair and rotational skin flaps
- Glaucoma filtering surgery (iStent, CyPass, trabeculectomy, tube-shunt)
- Iridoplasty and advanced suturing techniques
- Penetrating and lamellar keratoplasty
- Sutured intraocular lenses
- Strabismus surgery
- Vitrectomy (anterior and pars plana approaches)
Each resident spends over one hundred hours training to properly use OR-grade surgical instruments, microscopes, phacoemulsification and vitrectomy equipment, providing the most realistic possible training experience. Residents receive extensive one-on-one instruction. After completing the year-long curriculum, residents can confidently begin performing all facets of intraocular surgery during the PGY-3 year.
Early in the PGY-2 year, residents begin performing the basic steps of cataract surgery, applying microsurgical skills honed during the comprehensive wet laboratory program. Residents are fully prepared to perform complete primary cataract surgery by the second year of residency. PGY-3 residents typically perform 30-50 primary cataract procedures. The remainder of the PGY-3 surgical experience consists of strabismus and oculoplastic surgery. During the PGY-4 year, residents typically perform an additional 200-250 primary cataract surgeries, graduating with approximately 250-300 primary phacoemulsifications (90th percentile nationally). Residents gain proficiency with premium intraocular lenses and femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery. PGY-4 residents also perform glaucoma filtering surgery (including MIGS), vitreoretinal surgery (including pars plana victrectomy as primary surgeon), and corneal surgery (including corneal transplantation) as primary surgeons. Globe trauma is distributed across the entire residency. Residents also have the option to perform primary keratorefractive surgery (including LASIK and PRK) throughout all years of training.
The total surgical volume for graduating residents is typically in the 80th percentile nationally. Owing to our comprehensive surgical training, residents feel confident pursuing any sub-specialty fellowships or transitioning directly into a high volume comprehensive ophthalmology practice.
PGY-2 Orientation Course:
Every year in July, incoming PGY-2 residents receive approximately two weeks of intensive didactic and hands-on training to prepare them for their first clinical rotations. During this time period, first-year residents are excluded from all patient care duties (including clinic, call and consults) while they ramp up their skills to begin examining patients independently. Lectures are given by departmental faculty, research staff and clinical fellows, and are focused on both practical and academic topics.
Morning Lecture Series:
The backbone of the didactic program is the 18-month Core Lecture Series, a robust curriculum of more than 120 lectures covering key topics from all subspecialties. A variety of teaching styles are employed, including standard didactic lectures, case-based presentations and round-table discussions. Approximately 90% of lectures are given by Cole Eye Institute departmental staff, with the remainder given by optometrists and clinical fellows. The curriculum is designed such that the entire program is completed twice during the 36 month training program. This redundancy is intentional knowing that senior residents are often excused from morning lectures to begin their operating room duties. Lectures are held in the J.P. Storer Conference room, located on the first floor of the Cole Eye Institute from 7 to 8am.
From September through June, Ophthalmology Grand Rounds are held on Wednesdays from 7 to 8 a.m. Residents present interesting cases encountered during their clinical rotations and an interactive discussion between departmental staff, residents and fellows follows. A short presentation is then given by the resident focused on key take-home points or pertinent peer-reviewed literature.
Grand Rounds Quiz:
Immediately following Grand Rounds, residents are given a ten-question pictorial “quiz” by a faculty member covering their area of subspecialty expertise. The answers are then immediately reviewed and a discussion is held to review important findings and highlight key concepts. The purpose of the quizzes is for residents to assess their fund of knowledge and to prepare for the board examination.
Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) Conferences:
Twice annually, senior residents (PGY-3 and PGY-4) present surgical or clinical cases involving complications or negative outcomes. Residents provide a summary of any evidence based medicine relevant to the critical decision making and an open discussion is held amongst residents and faculty. The purpose of this conference is to learn from past experiences in a constructive environment, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the efficiency and quality of patient care.
Distinguished Lecture Series:
The Distinguished Lecture Series is a forum in which renowned visual scientists are invited to the Cole Eye Institute to present a lecture on their latest research findings. These lectures are held from 7-8 am, once a month. Residents are expected to attend and interactive discussion is encouraged.
Every month the chief resident gives a lecture to the PGY-2 residents focused on high-yield information for board preparation. These lectures are designed to be interactive, informal sessions with a heavy emphasis on pattern recognition and classic disease presentations.
PGY-2 residents receive more than 40 hours of structured, interactive pathology training in a small group setting with Careen Lowder, MD, PhD, a uveitis specialist with fellowship training in ocular pathology and thirty years of experience teaching residents. The sessions are held in the Timken Microsurgical Education Laboratory following wet labs on select Wednesdays throughout the academic year.
Residents attend monthly conferences in which interesting clinical cases with ophthalmic pathology are presented. The conferences are moderated by ocular oncologist Arun Singh, MD, and pathologists Thomas Plesec, MD and Gabrielle Yeaney, MD.
Dr. Ralph Eagle, a world-renowned ocular pathologist from Wills Eye Hospital, travels to Cleveland annually to provide a one-day, intensive pathology review for Cole Eye Institute residents and fellows to assist with OKAP and board examination preparation. Residents are invited to join Dr. Eagle and other departmental staff for an informal dinner.
Fluorescein Angiography (FA) and Uveitis Conferences:
Residents and subspecialty fellows participate in monthly recurring conferences for interesting uveitis and FA cases. The cases are moderated by the subspecialty fellows but attended by departmental staff to encourage high level discussion and evidence based medicine.
Cornea Journal Club and Cornea Conferences:
Residents and subspecialty fellows participate in monthly Cornea Conferences to present and discuss interesting cornea and refractive surgery cases. Subspecialty fellows moderate a monthly Cornea Journal Club in which the latest peer-reviewed literature is distilled and summarized for group discussion amongst residents and faculty.
Quality Improvement/Patient Safety Committee:
During the PGY-3 pediatric rotation, residents attend the monthly Quality Improvement Patient Safety (QIPS) meetings. These meetings are attended by a team of faculty, nurses, technicians and administrators with the purpose of critically reviewing any QIPS issues from the previous month. The emphasis of these meetings is to identify any systematic failures which may negatively impact patient outcomes and caregiver safety and implement any necessary changes to remedy them.
Ophthalmology journal clubs are held on average once monthly throughout the year. These meetings are held at a variety of venues, including homes of departmental staff and upscale restaurants. Journal clubs offer an informal, but educational environment dedicated toward increasing resident apprehension of recent literature, and learning how to critically analyze scientific papers.
On a quarterly basis, resident ethics conferences are held with moderators Elias Traboulsi, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist and geneticist, and Eric Kodish, MD, a pediatric oncologist and bioethicist. These conferences are held over dinner, employing an informal roundtable format. Residents anonymously submit ethical cases in advance which are selected by the moderators and presented for discussion at the meeting. Relevant peer-reviewed literature, when available, is provided as a basis for further discussion and enrichment.
Joint Subspecialty Conferences:
Quarterly joint subspecialty conferences with the residents and faculty from University Hospitals (UH) are held at both institutes on a rotating basis. Conference topics cycle through all of the major subspecialties (retina, cornea, glaucoma, pediatrics, etc,). Residents from both departments present interesting cases followed by discussion. The conferences are held in the evening and dinner is provided.
Cleveland Ophthalmological Society:
Cole Eye Institute residents are freed from clinical responsibilities to attend the Cleveland Ophthalmological Society (COS) meetings, held every two months at the Doubletree Hotel in Independence, OH on Tuesday afternoons from September through April. The meetings consist of two hours of didactics followed by a key note lecture from the invited guest lecturers. Residents are invited to present interesting cases. Approximately 100 regional ophthalmologists are in attendance and each meeting has a specific theme (e.g. Management of Surgical Complications, Update on Ocular Oncology, etc.). Guest lecturers are frequently nationally or internationally acclaimed experts in their field.
Continuing Medical Education Conferences:
Throughout the year, the Cole Eye Institute holds educational conferences for CME credit which are offered to regional ophthalmologists on a variety of subspecialty topics (e.g. annual North Coast Retina Symposium). These conferences are typically held on Saturdays, two to three times per year. Residents are expected to attend these conferences and frequently are invited to present cases or short lectures.
Annual Resident Research Day:
Every June, all residents and faculty attend the Annual Resident Research Day, an all-day conference in which residents, fellows and select faculty give focused presentations on a research project they have completed in the previous year. The conference is followed by the annual resident and fellow graduation ceremony, held at the InterContinental Hotel Ballroom attached to the Cleveland Clinic.
Between January and March, approximately fifteen review sessions are provided for residents and fellows to review high-yield content in preparation for the annual Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP), a yearly examination given to prepare residents for the Ophthalmic Board Examination.
Residents are invited to participate in cadaver dissection at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine to demonstrate orbital anatomy to medical students.
Call is spread out over the course of the 36-month training program, varying by resident level of training. All call is taken from home, although sleeping quarters are provided at both Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth Hospitals if needed. In the event of an exceptionally busy overnight call, the on-call resident may be excused from the following morning’s clinical responsibilities to ensure adequate rest. This is only necessary in rare circumstances as the call volume is generally quite manageable.
PGY-2 MetroHealth Home Call (q4 primary)
PGY-2 residents cover primary call at MetroHealth Hospital, on average q4 days. MetroHealth Hospital is a level one trauma center and the majority of afterhours consults relate to the evaluation and management of ocular and orbital trauma. The call volume is relatively light. A PGY-4 resident serves as back-up for surgical cases or for complex patient management decisions. A MetroHealth attending is always on-call and required to be present for any surgical cases performed in the operating room. Minor procedures (e.g. simple eyelid lacerations) may be performed by junior residents at the bedside, either supervised or unsupervised based on level of training and comfort level.
PGY-3 Cleveland Clinic Home Call (q4 primary)
PGY-3 residents cover primary call at the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, a level two trauma center. Cole Eye Institute residents are never required to see patients at any other Cleveland Clinic hospitals. Eye emergencies from regional hospitals are transferred to the main campus for further management if required. Subspecialty fellows and a Cleveland Clinic staff ophthalmologist are always available as back-up. PGY-3 residents go to the OR to perform surgical procedures arising from on-call patient issues. All operating room cases are supervised a staff physician (attending or fellow). Minor procedures (e.g. simple eyelid lacerations, lasers, injections) may be performed by PGY-3 residents at the bedside, either supervised or unsupervised based on level of training and comfort level.
PGY-4 MetroHealth Back-up Home Call (q4 backup)
PGY-4 residents serve as back-up for MetroHealth Hospital. This call is light, typically requiring travel to the hospital only for surgical cases. Due to the relatively infrequent nature of afterhours cases, PGY-4 residents usually cover call for one week periods at a time. At the beginning of the academic year, PGY-4 residents also mentor PGY-2 residents (“buddy call”). After the first few months of the year, PGY-2 residents are typically self-sufficient, only requiring assistance for complex patients or when surgery is needed.
Cole Eye Institute residents have the opportunity to conduct impactful research in collaboration with world-renowned leaders in academic ophthalmology. Their research activities are supervised carefully by an experienced clinical investigator and frequently go on to be published in high impact journals and featured at a variety of national and international meetings. Residents typically author or co-author five or more peer-reviewed manuscripts throughout the course of their training. Residents, fellows, and staff also participate in the Cole Eye Institute Annual Research, Residents and Alumni Meeting, a scientific forum to showcase the year’s best research projects, with prizes given out to the top resident and fellow presentations. A sampling of some of the many ongoing research projects is available on ConsultQD.
- Cleveland Clinic Physicians Review Frontalis Muscle Transposition Flap Procedure for Lateral Eyebrow Ptosis Repair
- Caspase-8-mediated Cleavage Inhibits IRF-3 Protein by Facilitating its Proteasome-mediated Degradation
- Study Finds Room for Improvement When Screening Patients for Ophthalmic Side Effects of Hydroxychloroquine
- Study Finds Vision First Model Provides Vision Screenings and Glasses for Children at All Public Schools in Cleveland
Please submit all application materials through the CAS/San Francisco (SF) Match service.
Residency application deadline is September 22, 2020. Applicants selected for interviews will be notified by email.
Interview Selection Criteria
The Committee reviews every application received by our deadline individually, and while we have no absolute requirements, we do give strong preference for applicants who meet the following criteria:
- Outstanding college and medical school academic records.
- Competitive scores on USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 (if taken).
- Strong work ethic and interpersonal communication skills, as evidenced by letters of recommendation, Dean's letter and medical school rotation evaluations.
- A commitment to advancing medical knowledge through laboratory research, clinical research or medical education.
- A passion for ophthalmology as indicated by involvement in research, elective rotations, or previous work/volunteer experience.
The goal of the committee is to interview applicants who we feel will flourish in residency training at the Cole Eye Institute. Although we require residents to participate in clinical or basic science research during their training, we do not look negatively upon residents who do not choose to pursue subspecialty fellowships or academic careers. We encourage our residents to follow their passion, and enthusiastically support them in all of their future endeavors. Consistent with the national trend, approximately 75% of our residents pursue subspecialty training with the remainder transitioning directly into comprehensive ophthalmology.
Applications will be reviewed following the deadline. Once candidates are selected for interview, notification of interviews will be made via email by our educational coordinator, Jen DiPiero. For the four vacancy positions, approximately 50-60 candidates will be interviewed.
For any questions regarding your application, please contact Jen DiPiero via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A full summary of resident benefits provided by the Cleveland Clinic (including salary levels and insurance coverage) can be located here.
Cole Eye Residents also receive the following supplemental benefits:
Basic and Clinical Science Course:
Residents are provided with both printed copies and electronic access to the Basic Clinical and Science Series (BCSC), the core study materials from which the OKAP and American Board of Ophthalmology examinations are derived.
Each resident is provided with a wireless indirect ophthalmoscope (HEINE OMEGA 500 LED) and charging station to use throughout the duration of their residency. Residents are also provided with a new iPhone (which also functions as their hospital pager) for all work related communication and email.
Residents receive a $1200 stipend which may be used to purchase books, ophthalmic equipment, computers, tablets or other educational resources.
Residents receive paid time off to travel to and present at regional or national conferences. Conferences days do not count against vacation or interview days.
Residents may request reimbursement up to $1500 per trip (no limit to total number of conferences per year) to travel to and present at any approved ophthalmology conferences. All PGY-4 residents receive reimbursement to attend the American Academy of Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, regardless of presentation status.
Residents receive up to nine (9) days of paid leave to interview for fellowship programs or jobs.
Electronic access to all of the major medical journals is available both on-site and via remote access. Current and archival print copies of all major ophthalmologic journals are also available in the Resident Library. Out of print articles can be requested via the Cleveland Clinic Library and are delivered electronically at no charge.