Program Overview


Many factors combine to distinguish the Penn State Hershey Eye Center's Ophthalmology Residency Program as a leader in Ophthalmology resident education:

  • Our association with Penn State University and the Penn State Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the leading academic medical center in central Pennsylvania;
  • Our faculty of full-time ophthalmologists with expertise in all of the subspecialty areas in Ophthalmology;
  • Our program size allows for ample opportunities to interact on a one-to-one basis with faculty;
  • Our patient population is interested in joining with faculty and residents to optimize their health care; and
  • Our commitment to provide the best in clinical and surgical education through direct patient care and a variety of innovative and effective educational programs.

This is a three-year residency program.  We currently train three residents at each PGY level.  Residents entering the program must have successfully completed a post-graduate clinical year (PGY-1) in a program accredited by the ACGME or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.



The Penn State Ophthalmology Residency Program is based in the Penn State Hershey Eye Center at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

We have a strong affiliation with the VA Medical Center in Lebanon, Pennsylvania where Residents will spend one third of their residency experience.

Both institutions contain modern, state-of-the-art clinical and operating room facilities. Both institutions have busy clinical practices which facilitates the development of skills in all aspects of ophthalmic care.

Basic and Clinical Science Conference Series

The Basic and Clinical Science Lecture Series is held Monday through Wednesday and on Fridays from 7:00-8:00 am. It serves as the core curriculum of the Residency Program. Conferences cover a broad range of ophthalmic topics including ophthalmic pathology, optics, cornea/external diseases, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, pediatric ophthalmology, oculoplastic and orbital diseases, retina, intraocular inflammation and uveitis, and ocular physiology.

Surgical Skills Workshops

The goal of the Surgical Skills Workshop is to promote discussion on the indications, complications, and operative techniques for common ophthalmic surgeries. Surgical Skills Workshops are held monthly in conjunction with the Surgical Morbidity Conference. The residents and a faculty moderator discuss common ophthalmic surgical procedures and techniques and develop a step-by-step algorithm to facilitate resident performance of the surgery. Use of surgery simulation models and wet lab experiences also help to enhance surgical skills.

Resident Orientation Program

The Resident Orientation Program was developed following a mini-retreat with the Ophthalmology residents and the Residency Program Director. It introduces the first year Ophthalmology residents to the residents, faculty, and staff of the Penn State Hershey Eye Center. The emphasis of the orientation is on history and eye examination skills. New residents are also introduced to common ocular emergencies and on-call responsibilities. Orientation is coordinated by the Chief Residents to promote the role of the Chief Residents as teachers.

Ethics in Ophthalmology

The Ethics in Ophthalmology seminar is presented semi-annually and is jointly sponsored by Penn State Hershey Eye Center and the Department of Humanities. Topics for discussion include: informed consent, patients' rights, clinical and basic science research, the impaired physician, co-management, advertising, and others.

Educational Activities outside the Department

Each year, residents may have the opportunity to attend meetings or courses such as the Wills Eye Review Course, the Armed Forces in Pathology course, and the annual meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the Association of Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO).

First and second year Ophthalmology residents take call, on average, every sixth night and every sixth weekend. Weekend call extends from Friday (5:00 pm) through Monday morning (8:00 am). Third year residents take secondary/surgical call every third week. A faculty member is assigned on-call responsibilities on a weekly basis and provides appropriate supervision for all residents.

The first two years of residency training are split between general and subspecialty Ophthalmology. Subspecialty rotations include cornea and external diseases, glaucoma, pediatric and neuro-ophthalmology, oculoplastics, and retina.   Experience in general Ophthalmology as well as Optometry practice is gained through rotations on emergency room/hospital consultation services at Hershey and through general Ophthalmology outpatient clinic practice at the VA Medical Center in Lebanon.  Goals and objectives have been set for each subspecialty rotation and post-rotation evaluations are conducted with each resident to insure that the residents are achieving the stated goals. During the subspecialty rotations, the residents accompany the faculty to the operating room one to two days per week. This provides valuable surgical experience in the first two years of training and facilitates participation in the pre- and post-operative care of their patients.

The final year of training consists of four months at Hershey and eight months at the VA Medical Center. Two senior residents are always scheduled at the Lebanon VA Medical Center and one senior resident is always scheduled at the Hershey site. The majority of Class I cataract surgeries are performed at the Lebanon VA Medical Center under the direct supervision of faculty members.  In addition to the outstanding clinical and surgical experience available at the VA Medical Center, senior residents have the opportunity to develop administrative and teaching skills. The senior resident rotations in Hershey are focused on development of surgical skills through experiences in the hospital O.R. and the Hershey Outpatient Surgery Center.  The senior residents also care for pre- and post-operative patients in the clinics of our ophthalmic surgeons and see their own patients in the comprehensive ophthalmology clinic which is held weekly.

Evaluation Process

How do we insure that our residents are achieving success in the areas of medical knowledge, patient care, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, practice-based learning and improvement, and systems-based practice? We utilize a variety of methods to measure resident performance but this is assessed primarily through direct observation and evaluation by members of the faculty. Other methods include evaluations by medical students and patients, performance in the Case-Based Learning in Ophthalmology (CBLO) series, the Ophthalmology Skills Assessment Program (OSAP-in development), Ophthalmology Clinical Evaluation Exercises (OCEX), Simulated Oral Boards in Ophthalmology (SOBO-in development), and performance on written examinations, including the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAPs).

Resident performance is evaluated by the faculty following each rotation. Each of these evaluations examines the resident’s performance in the six general competency areas. The residents meet individually with the Residency Program Director twice a year to review their performance on the rotations, discuss their research projects, and review their progress in meeting self-set six-month goals.  Residents must present the findings of their research projects at the annual Penn State Hershey Eye & Vision Research Day event which is attended by eye and vision researchers throughout the institution.

Q. Have you filled all of your positions for 2016-2017 ?
A.  Yes!

Q. How many applications did you receive last year?
A. Approximately 400 for 3 positions.

Q. Do you accept D.O. applications?
A. Yes, both M.D. and D.O. applications are reviewed.

Q. Do you have special prerequisite requirements or need additional information other than that which is required by the SF Match?
A. No, we only need your completed application from the SF Match.

Q. Does Pennsylvania have any special licensure requirements?
A. No

Q. Do you offer an integrated program?
A. No

Q. What is the deadline for receiving applications for the 2016 Match?
A. October 1, 2015 is our deadline.  Interviews will be conducted on December 4th, 7th, and 11th of 2015.

Q. Does your program accept FMG/IMG applications?
A. Yes

Q. What VISA's are acceptable by your program/institution?
A. J1 Only

Q. Do you require a minimum USMLE Score?   
A. While the score is a factor we consider, we do not have a set requirement.  We look at all aspects of your application to determine interview status.