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The principal objective of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital/MedStar Washington Hospital Center ophthalmology residency program is to produce a skilled ophthalmologist who adheres to the highest professional and ethical standards. The model graduate of this program is an efficient and productive practitioner, who is actively involved in clinical research, either for publication or practice outcomes analysis; who practices with the confidence, compassion, and efficacy of someone with a depth and breadth of the current knowledge in their field; who is aware of their leadership responsibilities and stewardship of their profession, community, and specialty; and finally, someone who understands the necessity and value of continuous learning, adaptation, and inquiry. This is accomplished 1) by ensuring that training is thorough and comprehensive, leading to certification of residency graduates by the American Board of Ophthalmology, 2) by maintaining high professional, educational and ethical standards, 3) by assuring a high level of care for all patients treated in the department, and 4) by promoting investigative and scientific research.

To help achieve these aims, goals and objectives for each assignment at each educational level have been developed. These Goals and Objectives are competency-based and are distributed to residents and faculty annually, in electronic form. In addition, they are reviewed with each resident at the start of each rotation.

View the Program Goals and Objectives 

The core principles of the curriculum are based on the integration of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Milestones into resident education and evaluation. Within the Milestones lie six competencies, emphasized at all levels of training, are:

Patient Care

Minolta DSCResidents must be able to provide patient care that is compassionate, appropriate, and effective for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of health. Residents must demonstrate competence in patient care, including: evaluating and assessing preoperative ophthalmic and general medical indications for surgery and surgical risks and benefits, developing intraoperative skills, managing systemic and ocular complications that may be associated with surgery and anesthesia, obtaining informed consent, performing ophthalmic procedures as primary surgeon (including cataract, strabismus, cornea, glaucoma, glaucoma laser, retina/vitreous, oculoplastics/orbit, refractive, and globe trauma), providing acute and long term postoperative care, and using local and general anesthetics.

Medical Knowledge

Residents must demonstrate knowledge of established and evolving biomedical, clinical, epidemiological and social behavioral sciences, as well as the application of this knowledge to patient care. Residents must demonstrate competence in their knowledge of the basic and clinical sciences specific to ophthalmology.

Practice-based Learning and Improvement

Residents must demonstrate the ability to investigate and evaluate their care of patients, to appraise and assimilate scientific evidence, and to continuously improve patient care based on constant self-evaluation and life-long learning.

Residents are expected to develop skills and habits to be able to meet the following goals:

  • Identify strengths, deficiencies and limits in knowledge and expertise;
  • Set learning and improvement goals;
  • Identify and perform appropriate learning activities;
  • Systematically analyze practice using quality improvement methods, and implement changes with the goal of practice improvement;
  • Incorporate formative evaluation feedback into daily practice;
  • Locate, appraise and assimilate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients' health problems;
  • Use information technology to optimize learning;
  • Participate in the education of patients, families, students, residents and other health professionals.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Residents must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families, and health professionals. Residents are expected to:

  • Communicate effectively with patients, families and the public, as appropriate, across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds;
  • Communicate effectively with physicians, other health professionals and health related agencies;
  • Work effectively as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group;
  • Act in a consultative role to other physicians and health professionals;
  • Maintain comprehensive, timely, and legible medical records.


Residents must demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities and an adherence to ethical principles. Residents are expected to demonstrate:

  • Compassion, integrity and respect for others;
  • Responsiveness to patient needs that supersedes self-interest;
  • Respect for patient privacy and autonomy;
  • Accountability to patients, society and the profession;
  • Sensitivity and responsiveness to a diverse patient population, including but not limited to, diversity in gender, age, culture, race, religion, disabilities and sexual orientation.

Systems-based Practice

Residents must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and system of health care, as well as the ability to call effectively on other resources in the system to provide optimal health care.
Residents are expected to:

  • Work effectively in various health care delivery settings and systems relevant to their clinical specialty;
  • Coordinate patient care within the health care system relevant to their clinical specialty;
  • Incorporate considerations of cost awareness and risk-benefit analysis in patient and/or population-based care as appropriate;
  • Advocate for quality patient care and optimal patient care systems;
  • Work in interprofessional teams to enhance patient safety and improve patient care quality;
  • Participate in identifying system errors and implementing potential systems solutions.



During the course of their three years of training, the residents are actively involved in the care of patients with a wide variety of ophthalmic diseases. The program seeks to foster increasing independence in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of patients as the three years progress, as well as continuity of care. Case loads are gradually increased during the first year as the resident acquires increased clinical skills and increased clinical confidence. As the residents progress through the program, their skills and knowledge continue to improve, allowing them to see more patients and develop increasing independence, so that they are able to practice independently upon completion of the program. However, this independence is accompanied by supervision throughout the three years of training. For example, at MWHC, every clinic patient is examined by an attending physician after the evaluation by the resident, allowing for immediate feedback on the aspects of the resident’s examination. At MGUH, the patients are generally the private patients of the faculty, but each is examined by the resident before the faculty member’s evaluation. Patients are discussed at the end of the day, and pertinent findings on the patient’s examination are discussed. At each rotation site, attendings are always present when residents are examining patients during normal working hours, allowing for 100 percent supervision.

For more information, contact:

Penelope Helfgott
Executive Director
Washington National Eye Center, Inc.
Administrative Program Director
MGUH/MWHC Ophthalmology Residency Program
110 Irving Street, NW, Suite 1A-19
Washington, DC 20010
Phone: 202-877-6159
Email: [email protected]

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