Culture at Iowa conducive to learning

April 1, 2010

University of Iowa's Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has long developed a reputation for educating its residents in a nurturing and supportive environment.

Iowa City, IA-With its small-town feel and old-fashioned friendliness, the University of Iowa's Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has long developed a reputation for educating its residents in a nurturing and supportive environment.

Because the department is located in a city of 67,000 citizens, housing is affordable and residents and faculty alike walk or ride their bikes to work. It all makes for a comfortable place to live and work and raise a family-even on a resident's salary, said Tom A. Oetting, MD, professor of clinical ophthalmology and residency program director.

For example, every faculty member makes time to attend Grand Rounds each morning from 8 to 9 a.m.-prime time when they could be tending their own patients-and discuss each case with all the residents and fellows. It's a tradition that dates to the department's founding in 1925, and Dr. Oetting said it helps to bond the department and gives residents unique access to faculty members.

"We don't have a Taj Mahal made of marble somewhere, where all the faculty are," he said. "That makes it really nice for the residents; if they have a clinical question or a research project they're working on, they can walk around and get faculty help."

Residents experience their training in the university hospital and two Veteran's Administration clinical sites, in Des Moines, headed by Connie Grignon, MD, and Iowa City, where Dr. Oetting also is the chief. They also can apply for a two-week training experience outside the United States for exposure to different health delivery systems, Dr. Carter said.