Ophthalmology Interest Group at WVU School of Medicine introduces medical students to career in visual sciences

Ophthalmology Interest Group at WVU School of Medicine introduces medical students to career in visual sciences

The Ophthalmology Interest Group at the West Virginia University School of Medicine is opening doors for medical students by introducing them to a career in visual sciences through lectures, hands-on-trainings and shadowing opportunities led by WVU Eye Institute ophthalmologists.

The interest group is a student-led organization that collaborates with the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences to expose medical students to the field through promoting faculty and patient interactions, providing observation and shadowing opportunities and offering training sessions on ophthalmic equipment.

Students can enroll in the interest group as early as their first semester of medical school, and can remain in the group all four years until their graduation. Fourth-year medical student Omar Sadat and third-year medical student Stephen Chen each joined the group during their first year at the WVU School of Medicine, and now serve as the president and treasurer of the group respectively.

Both students said they entered medical school with an initial interest in the field of ophthalmology, and that upon looking further into the group and attending their first meeting that they knew immediately that it was a perfect avenue to further explore the field while also building their skills and knowledge.

“I found the activities offered by the group such as the hands-on trainings and lectures to be really beneficial to me as they allowed me to learn more about the field than I ever had the chance to before, while also allowing me to acquire new skills and interact with the faculty and residents at the Eye Institute,” Sadat said.

Activities hosted by the interest group throughout each academic year include lectures hosted by faculty members focused on different subspecialties and hands-on trainings such as the slit lamp workshop, suture workshop and EyeSi surgical simulation sessions. Each of these trainings are led by Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences faculty and residents and allow students to practice using pieces of ophthalmic equipment in a controlled classroom setting.

In addition to the trainings, students also get the opportunity to become ingrained within the Department and work closely with faculty, fellows and residents

“During my three years in the Ophthalmology Interest Group, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know and work alongside the incredible physicians who make up this department,” Chen said. “From shadowing in the clinic, to getting to scrub in on surgeries on an elective rotation and working on long-term glaucoma research projects, I’ve felt that everyone at the Eye Institute has been very inviting and encouraging to students like me who want to get exposure in the field of ophthalmology.”

Both Sadat and Chen said they are grateful for all the opportunities presented to them through the interest group and that they are looking forward to continue building their knowledge in the field.

“Ophthalmology has a great balance of clinic and surgery, and is a really fulfilling field,” Sadat explained. “A patient can go from a visual acuity of 20/400 to 20/20 in a matter of days following a cataract surgery, which just goes to show how rewarding this field can be. I feel really lucky that I am able to further explore this field through the Ophthalmology Interest Group.”

To learn more about the School of Medicine’s M.D. Program, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/students/md-program.