A student-led organization at the West Virginia University School of Medicine is giving medical students the opportunity to build their confidence while gaining valuable experience in the field of ophthalmology.
The Ophthalmology Interest Group collaborates with the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences to expose medical students to the field by promoting faculty and patient interactions, providing observation and shadowing opportunities and offering training sessions on ophthalmic equipment.
The group is open to all medical students currently enrolled at the WVU School of Medicine, and students can be members of the group regardless of their program year.
Fourth-year medical student and Ophthalmology Interest Group president Omar Sadat said the group’s annual slit lamp workshop made a big impact on his first ophthalmology rotation.
“When I attended my first workshop, I had no idea how to properly operate the slit lamp,” Sadat said. “The training sessions gave me a chance to practice at it and by the time I had my first ophthalmology rotation, I was able to proficiently operate the device and conduct my first eye exam. That was a really rewarding feeling.”
Each fall, students enrolled in the Ophthalmology Interest Group participate in a slit lamp training workshop, learning to use the lamp, which is a microscope with a bright light that is used for conducting eye exams. It is a key tool in determining the health of a patient’s eyes and detecting ocular diseases.
The workshop is a hands-on training session and Professor and Vice-Chair of Education Geoffrey Bradford, M.D., said it is an important first step for any student who has an interest in the field.
“The slit limp is a tool I’ve used daily for nearly 30 years as a practicing ophthalmologist,” Dr. Bradford said. “Being able to provide students with an opportunity to begin familiarizing themselves with such a crucial piece of equipment can be invaluable to their medical education.”
The goal of the workshop is to help students like Sadat gain confidence using the equipment ahead of completing their ophthalmology rotation. The training session is led by Bradford and a group of residents from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
Following an introductory lecture on the utilization of the slit lamp, the students break into small teams with a resident leading a hands-on training session in one of the Eye Institute exam rooms. There, the students have the opportunity to observe a hands-on demonstration on the basics of operating the slit lamp from the residents, and practice conducting eye exams on one another.
Bradford noted that it is important to get the residents involved in this training, as they are able to make a close connection with the students.
“It wasn’t that long ago that roles were reversed, and the residents were that eager medical student, excited to learn about a new field. Having them involved in leading this workshop helps them connect with our students and provide a perspective different from that of our faculty,” Bradford said.
To learn more about the opportunities available to medical students at the WVU Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/eye/students.