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Ophthalmology Specialty at a Glance

Students interested in a career in ophthalmology should take electives that will prepare them for a lifelong career in ophthalmology. Ophthalmology is not a required medical student rotation, however student can gain exposure by requesting the surgery subspecialty month in the third-year surgery block.


Match Statistics

Step 2 CK median score: 252
25th percentile USMLE Step 2 CK: 244.0
75th percentile USMLE Step 2 CK: 260.0
Median research experiences: 4
Median abstracts, presentations or publications: 10

  • Why should a student choose ophthalmology?

    Ophthalmology offers a wide variety of career opportunities in the medical and surgical treatment of eye disease. Ophthalmologists provide longitudinal care for patients with a good variety of outpatient, inpatient and surgical care. One can practice comprehensive ophthalmology immediately after training or seek fellowship training in one or more of nine subspecialties (surgical retina, medical retina/uveitis, cornea, glaucoma, pediatric/adult strabismus, oculoplastic, neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology and global ophthalmology). Students with interest in surgery, advancing technology, longitudinal patient care and artificial intelligence should consider a career in ophthalmology.

  • Are there things students should be doing in Phase 1 (year 1 and 2) to prepare?
    • Getting involved in ophthalmology-specific research early in a student’s career is becoming increasingly important for the application review process.

    • Practicing self-directed learning (see resources below) and actively working to improve ophthalmology specific HPI gathering and examination techniques will help the motivated student prepare for MS3 and MS4 electives in ophthalmology.

    • Getting involved in the ophthalmology student interest group will expose students to various aspects of ophthalmology with many opportunities for deeper engagement with the department and community.

  • What electives are recommended for students pursuing ophthalmology?

    Ophthalmology electives in MS3 or early in MS4 should help a student decide if they would like to pursue ophthalmology. A research elective can also be helpful to increase exposure both to the specialty and to faculty in the department.

  • What sub-Is are recommended for students pursuing ophthalmology?

    A student’s goal should be to act at the level of a first-year resident during the sub-I rotation. Sub-Is in surgery, internal medicine or pediatrics may be beneficial to students interested in ophthalmology.

  • Is an away rotation recommended in ophthalmology?

    Away rotations are not required but are becoming increasingly more common. Away rotations are a highly effective way to “audition” at a specific program and give the student a chance to explore the visited program in depth. The away rotation should be completed with ample preparation after meeting with the career mentor to determine the best strategy for choosing and performing well at the away institution(s).

  • How important is research? Does it have to be specific to ophthalmology?

    Getting involved in ophthalmology-specific research early in a student’s career is a vital component for the application review process. This shows dedication to the field and gives more in-depth knowledge about a topic to the student.

  • How long is ophthalmology residency training?

    Residency training for this specialty is four years. All programs have either a joint or integrated PGY1 year which is at the same institution as the ophthalmology program.

  • Are there any specialty-specific recommendations regarding letters of recommendation?

    Seeking letters of recommendation from faculty in leadership roles (or with a history of leadership positions in organizations like AAO, AAPOS, AUPO, etc.) can enhance a student's application. Establishing a formal or informal mentorship with these faculty members is typically necessary. It's crucial to cultivate a strong and meaningful relationship with them to ensure a compelling letter.

  • What are some useful resources for students considering ophthalmology?
  • How does career mentoring at the IU School of Medicine work in ophthalmology?

    A student places a formal request by submitting a Student Career Mentor Form. The student is then matched with a faculty mentor in the Department of Ophthalmology. Informal mentorships can also be sought out within the department during electives or outside of standard medical education rotations.