For UF ophthalmology residents, patient advocacy doesn’t stop at conversations on Capitol Hill. In Alachua County, trainees volunteer at two Equal Access Clinic Network clinics — one adult and one pediatric — that are open two evenings a month to serve the uninsured and underinsured.
Eye exams including full dilation, cataract evaluations and glaucoma checks are a few of the services provided by faculty, residents and medical students at these free clinics. This experience gives residents the opportunity to not only care for underserved patients but to also teach undergraduate and health professions students who volunteer.
In addition to learning, teaching and taking care of patients, UF ophthalmology residents conduct and publish research to improve patient care. Every resident participates in research, and the program sends one resident to the annual Florida Society of Ophthalmology meeting to present their work. For the last five years, a UF resident has won the society’s research award.
“Our residents are outstanding, the faculty are very focused on residents when teaching and we get a wide variety of practice locations,” Beal said. “They come in knowing very little about ophthalmology because it’s not robustly taught in medical school, and, very quickly, their knowledge expands exponentially. That’s the best part — watching them grow across the three years.”