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University of Pennsylvania Health System

Department of Ophthalmology

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Ophthalmology Education

Penn Vision Clinical Scientist Program

Didactic Instruction Component of the Penn VCSP

The nature of didactic instruction will differ between trainees who are primarily interested in patient-oriented research and those who are primarily interested in areas involving laboratory science. The intensity of the didactic instruction will depend on the background of the trainee.

Most trainees interested in patient oriented research will enroll in the Master of Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) program sponsored by the Penn Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB).

Research | EducationThis program will provide basic courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, database management, critical appraisal of the medical literature, and development of research protocols. Trainees will choose an area of concentration (epidemiology, health services research, human genetics, bioethics or patient-oriented research). Additional courses in the area of concentration may be taken from electives offered through the CCEB or through other programs offered by other university education programs on such topics as public health, human genetics, microarray analysis, or economics. Elective independent study courses may also be arranged with faculty of the interdisciplinary centers affiliated with the School of Medicine (Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, Center for Bioethics, Institute for Engineering and Medicine). Dr. Maguire offers independent study on clinical measurement issues in ophthalmology (visual acuity, visual fields, intra-ocular pressure, etc) and on specialized statistical issues in ophthalmology (handling data from 2 eyes of the same patient, scaling visual acuity, dealing with the variability of visual field measurements). Trainees are required to design a small-scale research project as part of their protocol development course and to then execute, analyze, and present the results in the year(s) following the first full year of courses. Each trainee will have an advisory committee (typically 3 faculty members, 2 with appointments in the CCEB) that must approve the project prior to implementation and approve the written presentation of the completed project.

Trainees may also choose the Master of Public Health program, the Master of Biotechnology program, the Master of Biostatistics, or the Master of Bioethics programs if they desire more specialized training in these areas. Alternatively, some trainees may enroll in the PhD program in either Clinical Epidemiology or Biostatistics.

Clinician scientist trainees in laboratory related areas would select courses from those noted above and relevant courses offered by Cell and Molecular Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience, and the other Biomedical Graduate Groups at Penn. The intensity of the courses will depend on the educational background of the trainee. For trainees without a previously obtained PhD, coursework typically will include the core set of 3-4 units required of doctoral students in the relevant Graduate Group; electives in the specific area of interest, at least one course on obtaining, managing, analyzing, and interpreting data in their field of research; and at least one course on critical review of the literature.

Participation in Journal Clubs, Lab Meetings, and Seminar Series by Penn VCSP Trainees

For all trainees, participation in the relevant journal clubs, laboratory meetings, conferences, and seminar series is an important part of the educational program. These activities aid the trainee in developing perspective on the field and approaches to research investigations.

Development of a Plan for Research Activities

Trainees will work with their mentors to develop a research plan that will provide the candidate with a variety of experiences in the candidate's area of interest with an increasing amount of responsibility and independence. Trainees will participate in the research activities of one or more Mentors.

Development of Oral Presentation and Writing Skills and Other Professional Skills

Trainees will need to present plans for and results of research projects throughout their training programs. The Lead Mentor and departmental faculty will critique presentations at departmental seminars, journal clubs, lab meetings, courses and professional meetings. Trainees will be encouraged to take advantage of the professional development series offered by the Office of Faculty Affairs that provides instruction on preparing PowerPoint presentations, making short presentations, and making long presentations. Trainees will attend professional meetings such as ARVO during all years of their program, not only for educational purposes, but also for the opportunity to take part in selected activities of the professional organization and to meet leaders in their field.

Regular Review of the Candidate's Plans and Activities

Aside from regular, informal interactions between trainees and Mentors, each trainee will have a formal meeting twice each year with the Mentor or mentoring team. The trainee will prepare a written summary of the meeting including documentation of accomplishments and suggestions for modifying the research plan and for professional development. The Advisory Committee will review and comment on the initial training program developed by the trainee and Lead Mentor prior to the beginning of the training program. Thereafter, the full Advisory Committee will review the CV, record of accomplishments, and plans for future research activities of each trainee once per year. In the latter part of the training period, it is anticipated that each trainee will take responsibility for preparing a full, NIH-style, proposal for a substantial research project that the trainee will lead.


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