Event Summary: 2020-21 UManitoba Ophthalmology Virtual Open House

Dec 20, 2020 | 2 min

The UManitoba Department of Ophthalmology held a Virtual Open House event for prospective CaRMS applicants on December 1st, 2020. The event was hosted by Dr. Bellan (Department Head), Dr. Clark (Program Director), and a number of residents. There was a prepared presentation that introduced the program and the city of Winnipeg with ample time for questions from the many attendees.

Relative to other programs across Canada, the UManitoba residency is relatively new as their ophthalmology training program was originally outsourced to Saskatchewan in 1982 with the program being revitalized in 2012. Many residents and staff highlighted that the program is quite flexible to resident needs due to the smaller resident cohort and that the program isn’t entrenched in old habits. The program size also allows for excellent surgical exposure and there is a concerted effort to ensure that resident surgical experience isn't diluted by fellows or other trainees.

The main training site for the program is the Misericordia Health Centre but there are a number of other hospitals in Winnipeg as well. The resident clinic has 5 lanes (1 for the staff MD, 1 for a technician, 3 for residents) and allows residents to gain experience booking a clinic and typically has lower volume to allow PGY-2’s to hone their skills. There is also a wet lab that is available 24/7 with an eye bank site at the Misericordia Health Centre.

Features of the program’s structure that stand out relative to other institutions include that the PGY-1 year is 10 blocks of relevant off-service specialties (plastics, medicine, paeds, neuro-radiology…) but you do get 1.5 blocks of on-service time in the resident clinic. Not all programs have this much ophthalmology exposure in PGY-1 and is good preparation for TORIC (the remaining 1.5 blocks of PGY1). In terms of rural exposure, there is an opportunity to assist in clinics in Nunavut during PGY-3, and all residents spend time in Brandon with Dr Rocha. Other departmental events that were mentioned included departmental journal clubs (3 times per year), subspecialty journal clubs, visiting professors (3 times a year), the Misericordia gala, an annual resident retreat, and other team-building events (pub quiz, summer barbecue…).

Many of the residents and staff highlighted that Winnipeg is a highly livable city and that it has a great mix of small town and big city features. Living in Winnipeg is also very affordable as a spacious 2 bedroom apartment in close proximity to the hospital and full amenities can cost less than a 1-bedroom in larger Canadian cities! In comparison to larger cities, there is a shorter commute with minimal traffic, a strong local music scene (folk fest, Festival du Voyageur, Fringe Festival, Folklorama), and many winter activities including the extensive river trails.

If you have any questions, please email terri.nevile@umanitoba.ca, and reach out to the residents @umanitobaophthalmology on Instagram!

Authors: Cody Lo & Anne Xuan-Lan Nguyen

Cody Lo is a 4th year medical student from UBC and is the Director of External Affairs for the Canadian Ophthalmology Student Interest Group. Anne Xuan-Lan Nguyen is a 2nd year medical student from McGill and is the Executive Director for the Canadian Ophthalmology Student Interest Group.