Residency Program

The Department of Ophthalmology has directed the integrated residency program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center since 1966. Ophthalmology residency training is conducted primarily at four affiliated institutions including the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Regional One Health (formerly The Med), Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, and Methodist University Hospital. Some rotations also include clinical responsibilities at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee Medical Group clinics. Currently, the ophthalmology residency program is fully accredited for three years of training with a total of fifteen (15) residents (five each year of training). Our program is designed to provide outstanding training for careers in comprehensive ophthalmology, subspecialty practice, or academic medicine.

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is part of the state-wide UT system that was founded in 1794. The Memphis campus, founded in 1911, provides comprehensive medical education to 2,100 enrolled students in the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Allied Health Sciences, Graduate Health Sciences, Social Work, and the School of Biomedical Engineering.

The campus is ideally located in the downtown medical center where there are four major teaching hospitals within a short distance of each other. These hospitals provide the full spectrum of primary to tertiary care for a medically diverse patient population. 

UT campus facilities include the medical library, Coleman College of Medicine Building, and the Wassell Randolph Student Alumni Center (SAC). The SAC provides athletic and entertainment facilities, including an indoor pool, gymnasium, sauna, whirlpool, weight room, racquetball and squash courts, and outdoor tennis courts.


Application Top ^

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Ophthalmology Residency Program participates in the Ophthalmology Matching Program (OMP). Application should be submitted through the Central Application Service of the OMP. Interviews are mandatory and by invitation only. To register with the Central Application Service of the OMP you may write to the following address:

Ophthalmology Matching Program 
P. O. Box 7584 
San Francisco, CA 94120-7584
Phone: 415-447-0350 
Web site: http://www.sfmatch.orgexternal link

Prior to entry into the residency program, one year of PGY-1 approved training is required. Applicants are encouraged to pursue PGY-1 positions in preliminary or categorical programs emphasizing primary patient care such as internal medicine, pediatrics, or surgery. However, any program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, or an equivalent program is acceptable. 

Approximately 48 applicants will be invited for interview each year. The 2014 application deadline (the date by which materials must be received) is October 1. Interview dates this year are Monday, November 21 and Friday December 8. On the eve of each interview day, the applicants are invited to a resident's home for an informal get-together with all of the residents. All candidates will meet with the department chair, James C. Fleming; the residency program director, Dr. Natalie C. Kerr; and at least three other full-time faculty members. All candidates will tour the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Regional One Health (formerly The Med), Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, and the Hamilton Eye Institute. The interview day is an all-day event.

Clinical Training Top ^

The residency training program begins each July with a two-week introductory course to ophthalmology. This course consists of a series of lectures, workshops, and skills-transfer sessions designed to assist the resident with the transition into ophthalmology training. During this course, didactic lectures emphasize common and emergent conditions in the areas of cornea and external disease, pediatric ophthalmology, retina and vitreous, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, orbit, and oculoplastics. 

Workshops combine didactic lectures with clinical experience and include trauma evaluation and management with interpretation of imaging studies; automated visual field principles and interpretation; introduction to fluorescein angiography and interpretation techniques; and A- and B-scan ultrasonography. Skills transfer modules are conducted by at least one full time faculty member, and include the following subjects: basic history and examination techniques, refraction, keratometry, slit lamp examination of the anterior and posterior segments, applanation tonometry, and indirect ophthalmoscopy. At the completion of this course, the first year residents begin full time clinical duties at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center or the Regional Medical Center.

First-Year Residency (PGY-2)

The major emphasis of the first year of ophthalmology training is to develop an understanding of the pathophysiology of ocular diseases and development of skills in the diagnosis and management of these diseases. The first year of training consists of three 4-month rotations, one at the VAMC Veterans Affairs Medical Center and two at the MedPlex Clinic of the Regional Medical Center. The first-year resident assists with cataract, glaucoma, and oculoplastics procedures with the senior residents and full-time faculty. First-year residents also perform minor oculoplastics procedures, enucleations, and repair of corneoscleral lacerations under the supervision of a faculty member. 

Residents are required to provide their own Indirect Ophthalmoscope and lenses, as well as Direct Ophthalmoscope with Transilluminator.

Each first-year resident is on call an average of once every sixth night. First call is shared by the first- and second-year residents while senior residents serve as backup for consultation and assistance.

First-year residents are provided the following textbooks during the first week of residency:

  • The Wills Eye Manual
  • Basic and Clinical Science Course of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Basic Science and Board Review Course in Ophthalmology: Essential Optics for the Ophthalmologist
  • Refraction: A Programmed Text

Second-Year Residency (PGY-3)

The second year of residency training is divided into three rotations of four months, and focuses on subspecialties (cornea, cataract, and glaucoma), pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, and ophthalmic pathology. Second- year residents spend four months at the VAMC where they can expect to perform over 30 cataract extractions as the primary surgeon. Additionally, residents perform basic oculoplastic surgery including tarsorrhaphy, blepharoplasty, ectropion, entropion, and ptosis procedures. Second-year residents gain extensive experience in argon and YAG laser procedures including panretinal photocoagulation, grid photocoagulation, trabeculoplasty, iridotomy, and capsulotomy. 

The rotation in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus is spent primarily at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. Residents gain extensive experience in the diagnosis and management of pediatric patients. Residents perform a variety of strabismus procedures. During this rotation, residents also have the opportunity to see patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital including children with retinoblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, ocular complications of bone marrow transplantation, and ocular complications of brain neoplasms. 

The remaining four months are with Cornea, Glaucoma, and Retina faculty where the resident is able to participate in the initial evaluation and management of patients with complex corneal disorders, glaucoma, and retinal disease. Residents may perform and assist cataract extractions, penetrating keratoplasty, refractive surgery, glaucoma surgery, and retinal surgery. One morning a week, residents are assigned to the Ophthalmic Pathology service where they participate in gross and microscopic examination of tissues. Pathologic specimens from all the affiliated hospitals are processed and analyzed by the resident under the direction of full time faculty during this rotation. In addition, residents are assigned unknown cases for review at weekly pathology rounds conducted by the full-time faculty.

Third- Year Residency (PGY-4)

The third year of residency training consists of three rotations of four months each at the VAMC, Regional One Health (formerly The Med), and Methodist University Hospital. The senior resident assumes increasing responsibility for the medical and surgical management of patients. Third-year residents serve as Chief Residents during their rotations at Methodist University Hospital. Additionally, each third-year resident attends the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Senior residents are urged to submit abstracts to the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) under the sponsorship of a full-time faculty member. 

Surgical experience at the VAMC routinely includes over 150 major anterior segment procedures including phacoemulsification, penetrating keratoplasty, glaucoma surgical procedures including trabeculectomy, combined phacoemulsification and trabeculectomy, and glaucoma drainage implants. Complex oculoplastic procedures are also performed during this rotation, including complicated entropion and ectropion repair, enucleation, evisceration, orbital fracture repair, and blepharoplasty. Vitreoretinal procedures including pars plana vitrectomy, scleral buckle, epiretinal membrane removal, and endolaser are also performed during this rotation, as well as focal/grid photocoagulation procedures. 

The third-year rotation at Regional One Health (formerly The Med) offers an extensive experience in craniofacial trauma and reconstruction. Residents gain extensive experience in repair of corneoscleral lacerations, complex orbital and maxillofacial trauma, and traumatic cataracts. Additionally, senior residents perform phacoemulsifications, trabeculectomies, and penetrating keratoplasties. Laser procedures include argon laser grid/focal photocoagulation, panretinal photocoagulation, trabeculoplasty, YAG capsulotomy, and iridotomy. 

The rotation at Methodist University Hospital provides residents with the opportunity to provide comprehensive ophthalmology services to a wide variety of patients. Adult and pediatric patients are seen at this facility and the outpatient clinic. Senior residents perform phacoemulsifications, glaucoma procedures, penetrating keratoplasties, and strabismus procedures during this rotation. Additionally, a variety of argon-laser procedures are performed at this facility.

Didactic Curriculum Top ^

Lectures, conferences and wetlabs are held weekly. Each service conducts a series of lectures covering the subspecialty areas of ophthalmology. Ophthalmology Grand Rounds are held on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Fridays of each month at 1:15 p.m.  Morbidity & Mortality Conferences are held the 4th Monday of each month. On months in which a 5th Monday occurs, Basic Science Grand Rounds are held.

The Department of Ophthalmology conducts a visiting professor lecture series six times each year. Additionally, the Kambara, Williford, Ridley, and Arnold Distinguished Visiting Professor Lectureships present nationally and internationally recognized speakers in October, November, December, and April of each year.

Affiliated Hospitals & Medical Centers Top ^

UT Health Science Center is part of Memphis' $5 billion health care industry that provides medical care to over 200,000 people annually. Health care providers at UT Health Science Center and local hospitals are nationally and internationally recognized in their specialities.

Veterans Affairs Medical Center

This 665-bed hospital is the 12th largest hospital in the VA system. The VAMC serves as the primary teaching hospital for the ophthalmology residency program. In 2002, the Ophthalmology Clinic underwent a major renovation and expansion and now includes six modern, fully equipped eye lanes, an extensive minor surgery suite, a digital fluorescein and indocyanine green angiography suite, Goldmann and Humphrey automated visual field analyzers, and two laser rooms (argon and YAG). Over 1,000 patients are seen in this clinic each month. 

Regional One Health (formerly The Med)

Regional Medical Center at Memphis

Regional One Health (formerly The Med) is the only Level-1 trauma center serving the Mid South region. It includes the Regional Medical Center, Elvis Presley Trauma Center, Newborn Center, and Burn Center. 

The Medplex Ambulatory Care Center is a modern out-patient facility and the ophthalmology clinic is well equipped with ten examination lanes, a minor surgery room, Humphrey visual field analyzer, Argon and YAG lasers, digital fluorescein angiography, and A- and B-scan ultrasonography. Over 800 patients are seen in this clinic monthly. 

Methodist University Hospital

Methodist University Hospital

This a 696-bed tertiary care referral center with the most active heart transplant program in the region. The ophthalmology clinic is equipped with four examination lanes,a Humphrey visual field analyzer, fundus photography, and fluorescein angiography suites. 


Le Bonheur Children's Hospital

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital

This is a 225-bed regional referral center that serves as the regional trauma center for children 16 years of age and younger. The ophthalmology service is extremely busy, serving the region's one million children. A state of the art electrophysiology laboratory is located within the eye clinic, which has one lane for inpatient and emergency consults. Additionally, the UTMG facility in Germantown has 4 fully equipped pediatric examination lanes, photography and diagnostic suites, and a minor surgery facility.


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

This is a 48-bed hospital devoted to the care of devastating childhood illnesses. St Jude Children's Research Hospital is renowned for the treatment of children with leukemia and childhood neoplasms. There is also an active brain tumor service, as well as genetics and infectious disease services at this facility. A new ophthalmology clinic is equipped with two examination lanes, digital fluorescein angiography, ultrasonography, and an automated visual field analyzer. Second year residents may attend ophthalmology clinics and conduct pediatric consultations at this facility.

Research Top ^

The Department of Ophthalmology has established a strong research program under the direction of Dr. Dianna Johnson. Within the department, The Center For Vision Research provides an environment to encourage, support, and coordinate research in vision and ophthalmology among approximately 40 vision scientists located in several departments within the College of Medicine. Both basic science and clinical faculty are actively involved in ongoing research. Major areas of research include the role of neurotransmitters as excitotoxins, neurotrophins in the developing retina, macular degeneration, inherited retinal diseases, altered blood flow and excitotoxins in glaucoma, lens biochemistry and cataract formation, and pathophysiology of intraocular inflammation. 

Residents are encouraged to pursue basic or clinical science research projects in their areas of interest. At the beginning of the second year of training, each resident is required to plan and design a research project under the guidance of a full time faculty member. The results of the project are presented at the Annual Alumni and Residents Day at the end of the second and third years of training.

Stipends and Fringe Benefits Top ^

Malpractice Insurance

Provided by the University

Comprehensive Health Plan

80% of premium paid for residents and their dependents

Disability and Life Insurance

Provided by the University

Vacation and Leave

- Three weeks of vacation each year
- Sick leave
- Maternity leave


Lab coats provided to all residents

About Memphis Top ^

In 1541, the Spanish explorer, Hernando DeSoto, is believed to have first viewed the Mississippi River from what is today the bluffs of downtown Memphis. Named for an ancient Egyptian capital meaning "Place of good abode," Memphis was laid out with spacious streets, public squares, and river promenades. The city has grown and flourished to become a major distribution and transportation center for the Southeast. 

With a city population of 670,902 and metropolitan area of 906,825, Memphis is an exciting urban center [source: 2006 census]. A rebirth in downtown investment has led to a wealth of new restaurants and entertainment spots, as well as the addition of new housing communities along the river. Away from the glitter of the city lights, one finds many parks, beautiful neighborhoods, and the quiet calm of the nearby countryside.

Memphis's rich history includes the local founding of many businesses that are today enjoying nationwide success. Another part of its history is a proud musical heritage that witnessed the beginnings of "the Blues" on historical Beale Street, as well as the birth of "Rock 'n Roll."

Business and Industry

Memphis serves as a center for corporate business, transportation, education, and health care. Many companies, including FedEx, Kraft Foods, and AutoZone have chosen Memphis for their national headquarters because of its central location and quality of living.


Residents have numerous choices for quality, affordable housing. Harbor Town, located on Mud Island, is only ten minutes from the Medical Center and has numerous apartments and small family homes. It provides a safe and attractive atmosphere with spectacular views of the river. Downtown apartments and high-rise condominiums are also located within minutes of the Medical Center and provide riverfront ambiance. Midtown districts, including Overton Park and Central Gardens, provide homeowners with splendid older homes and gardens within close proximity to affiliated hospitals. East Memphis, Bartlett, Cordova, and Germantown offer residents the safety and ease of traditional neighborhoods while remaining within a short drive of all the conveniences of the city.


The Memphis and Shelby County school systems offer a variety of accelerated programs and tracks. Many private and parochial schools also are available. Memphis is home to 15 colleges and universities, including Rhodes College, the University of Memphis, and Christian Brothers University.

The Arts 

Memphis Pink Palace Museum

One of the largest museums in the southeast - features cultural and natural history of the Mid-South.

Orpheum Theatre

Home to opera, Broadway shows, and concerts.

Memphis Symphony

The 75-member Memphis Symphony Orchestra is considered one of the country's leading regional orchestras.

Ballet Memphis

Ballet Memphis has grown to be a noted professional company recognized as a national treasure by the Ford Foundation.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Features major Impressionist works.

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Tennessee's oldest and largest art museum.

Germantown Performing Arts Centre

The Germantown Performing Arts Centre brings cultural events to this suburb of Memphis that once were reserved for major global centers such as New York or Paris.

Attractions and Entertainment

Autozone Park

Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, AutoZone Park is quickly being termed the finest ballpark below the major league level.

Beale Street Historic District

One of America's most famous streets, live entertainment and dining. Included in this historic district are B. B. King's Blues Club, Isaac Hayes Music Food Passion, Peabody Place, and Charles Vergos' world famous Rendezvous restaurant

Cooper-Young District

Heart of Midtown, antique shops, international cuisine, fall arts and crafts festival


Home of Elvis Presley

Memphis Botanical Gardens

Ninety-six acres of carefully tended gardens featuring Azalea and Dogwood trails

Memphis in May International Festival

Features a different nation each year, Beale Street Music Festival, and Barbeque Cook-off

Memphis Music Hall of Fame Museum

Chronicles the development of American music from the '40s to the present day

Memphis Queen Line Riverboats

Cruises on the Mississippi River from March through November

Memphis Zoo

72-acre facility located in Overton Park

Mud Island

River island entertainment park

National Civil Rights Museum

Exhibits and interactive displays provide an overview of the American Civil Rights Movement

National Ornamental Metal Museum

The only institution in the United States devoted exclusively to the preservation and promotion of fine metalwork, this museum's changing exhibits range from jewelry and sculpture by the finest contemporary metal artisans to displays of medieval armor and third-century swords

Shelby Farms

The largest urban park in the U.S., over 4500 acres of land, allowing biking, hiking, canoeing, fishing, archery and horseback riding


Auto Racing

Memphis Motorsports Parkexternal link
Located in north Shelby County


Memphis Redbirdsexternal link
AAA minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals


NBA Memphis Grizzliesexternal link
University of Memphis Tigersexternal link


FedEx-St. Jude Golf Classicexternal link
Held at Tournament Players Club Southwind


Mississippi Riverkingsexternal link
Central Hockey League, at Desoto Civic Center

FedEx Forum

The FedEx Forumexternal link is the largest public building construction project in Memphis history. Managed and operated by the Memphis Grizzlies, the facility is home to both the Grizzlies and the University of Memphis Tigers.


Kroger-St. Jude International Indoor Tennis Championship, held at the Racquet Club.

For additional information, contact: Top ^

Miea Williams
GME Residency Coordinator
Hamilton Eye Institute
930 Madison Avenue, Suite 470
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: 901-448-1767