John A. Moran Eye Center Education Focus 2024

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Next Generation Experts

Next Generation Experts

Residency Program Overview: A Unique Approach


Best Hospitals for Ophthalmology

No. 10 Nationwide


Residency Navigator

No. 6 Nationwide No. 1 in the West

High Surgical Volumes

Clinical faculty members perform more than 8,600 surgeries annually and attend to 175,000 patient visits. In a typical three-year period, one Moran resident, on average, performs about 740 surgeries and procedures. More than 300 are cataract surgeries 86 is the national requirement. A wet lab and surgical simulators give residents additional opportunities for hands-on experience.

Resident Continuity Clinic

From day one, interns manage a patient’s eye care throughout their ophthalmology rotation under the supervision of a board-certified ophthalmologist.

Innovative Curriculum

Moran goes beyond the traditional, didactic teaching model to foster a dynamic, interactive ophthalmology curriculum, including a wellness program with protected academic time.

Online Publishing—Moran CORE

Scan for more information about our Education Program.

Residents publish on Moran’s multimedia, peer-reviewed educational website, the Clinical Ophthalmology Resource for Education at

Quality Improvement

Residents design quality improvement projects as part of value training to provide the best patient outcomes at the lowest possible cost.

Dedicated Research Time

Moran residents may receive up to one-half day of dedicated weekly research time for projects. Moran also provides funding opportunities like the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation’s scholars program.

Elective Time

Third-year residents can tailor three months of elective time to their interests and participate in local and international outreach work with Moran’s Global Outreach Division.

Program Growth

Moran received 685 resident applications for four spots in 2023. With interns, Moran in FY23 is training 16 residents and 14 fellows in specialties including cornea and refractive surgery, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, oculoplastics, retina and vitreous surgery, uveitis, and global outreach.

Message From the Vice Chair

It is hard to believe almost a year has passed since I assumed my new role as Vice Chair of Education here at the John A. Moran Eye Center. It is in every way my dream role.

I chose a career in academic medicine because I believe in training the next generation of ophthalmologists, and more specifically, I chose academic medicine at Moran because I believe there is no other institution that has its unique combination of visionary leadership, unparalleled clinical learning, and in my opinion, the world’s best cataract teachers.

I was fortunate to assume leadership of a program that has already enjoyed tremendous success. Doximity consistently ranks our residency among its Top 10 thanks to our dedicated faculty, innovative approach to training, and cutting-edge resident research opportunities supported by the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation of Utah. As I transitioned from dreaming about this job to living this job, many people asked me how I could possibly improve a program that had already achieved such tremendous success. I found the answer by turning to those most invested in our program: our residents and fellows. With them as partners, the academic team has placed an emphasis on several new areas.

We are beginning to create a revamped, longitudinal surgical curriculum that brings a hands-on approach to surgical teaching to residents at every level of training. We based this new approach on our nationally recognized and highly successful flipped classroom didactic lecture model. The

three-year results of that model are shared in this edition of Education FOCUS. We also expanded our fellowship training with the addition of two new fellowships led by renowned faculty members Steffen Schmitz-Valckenberg, MD, and Robert Kersten, MD, FACS, FASOPRS: medical retina and oculoplastics. It has been an amazing year of growth. In 2023, we received 685 residency program applications. As we trainthenextgeneration,wewill dreamevenbigger.

Rachel Simpson, MD Vice Chair of Education, John A. Moran Eye Center Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Utah

A Tale of Two New Fellowships

Moran introduces oculoplastics and medical retina specialty training.

While Moran Eye Center oculoplastic surgeon

Robert Kersten, MD, FACS, FASOPRS, is renowned for his surgical skills, he’s also known as a top educator who has authored books and received awards for his work teaching and training the next generation of specialists.

At Moran, he directs an American Society of Oculofacial Plastic Surgery (ASOPRS)-approved fellowship, working with practicing fellow Sudarshan “Sudi” Srivatsan, MD.

Robert Kersten, MD, FACS, FASOPRS, left, and Sudarshan “Sudi” Srivatsan, MD, the first oculoplastic fellow at the Moran Eye Center.

One of only about 20 such fellowships offered each year in the United States, the two-year ASOPRS program is one of the nation’s most rigorous and came with Kersten when he joined the Moran faculty in 2023.

“The training has to meet strict criteria for approval based on the number and mix of surgical cases and the availability and cooperative work with surgeons in ancillary programs such as neurosurgery, otolaryngology, ocular pathology, and neuro-ophthalmology,” explains Kersten.

The ASOPRS requires fellows to author a designated number of articles, make national and international presentations, and undergo demanding testing each year. They must publish at least one original thesis and pass yearly written and oral board exams.

“Moran presents an excellent environment for exposure to a vast range of oculoplastic cases given the extensive referral area and additional handson training at the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Primary Children’s Hospital,” says Kersten. “Fellows also have the advantage of training with my partner, Joon Kim, MD. We see challenging and reportable cases on an almost weekly basis.”

Srivatsan says, "It's been gratifying to work as a team with two of the pre-eminent oculoplastic surgeons in the country. I gain new insights into diagnosis and treatment every day. I'm nearly halfway through my fellowship and excited about what lies ahead."

Kersten has mentored hundreds of residents and over 40 fellows in his field and describes teaching as a calling.

“Sudi has been a dream to work with,” says Kersten. “He never fails to run important clinical findings to ground and frequently enlightens us with reviews of the recent literature as it pertains to challenging management cases. And, he has a good sense of humor.”

Medical Retina Fellowship Addresses Growing Need

Retinal specialist and internationally recognized expert in age-related macular degeneration, Steffen Schmitz-Valckenberg, MD, oversees Moran’s new medical retina fellowship, a position that is being offered in a growing number of institutions nationwide.

“The medical management of several vitreous, retina, and choroidal diseases has seen major breakthroughs and important developments in recent years, along with an increasing number of patients with these conditions,” says SchmitzValckenberg. “With the medical retina fellowship, we can address the increasing need for well-trained specialists in the field. Moran offers a diverse and in-depth learning environment with a renowned retina faculty that shares a special interest in teaching and training young colleagues.”

The fellowship offers ample opportunities to intensively interact with the faculty, ophthalmology residents, and medical students. It includes conferences, journal clubs, and rounds. At Moran, trainees actively participate in imaging analysis at the Utah Retinal Reading Center, directed by Schmitz-Valckenberg. Fellows also have the opportunity to participate in local and international outreach with Moran's Global Outreach Division.

As Moran’s first medical retina fellow, Brian Solinsky, MD, says he paved the way for future fellows by giving feedback to a faculty willing to listen and shape the best clinical and research experience possible.

“The opportunities at Moran are unparalleled,” says Solinsky. “I don’t know of another program in the country where you get elite medical training, including time with oncology and uveitis, time for cataract surgery, and world-class research facilities. I’ve also been able to work with the global outreach team and had a chance to travel to Nepal, where I was able to teach, learn, and make some valuable connections.”

Schmitz-Valckenberg says, “We are happy to have Brian here at the Moran. He comes from a well-trained residency program and has quickly integrated into our team. The patients like him a lot, and it’s wonderful to see how he has progressed. I’m confident he will have a great future in the field.”

Scan for more information about Moran’s Fellowship Program.

Steffen Schmitz-Valckenberg, MD, left, and Brian Solinsky, MD, the first medical retina fellow at the Moran Eye Center.


Reflecting on Residency Research Support

The Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation of Utah is marking 15 years of enhancing America’s national and local capacity for research and innovation in science and technology.

At the University of Utah, the group provides scholarships to promising students in two departments: the Moran Eye Center and the College of Engineering. ARCS awards $15,000 annually to incoming Moran residents to pursue research with the hope they will choose careers that continue their scientific investigations. Moran matches the award for the following two years of residency, providing a total of $45,000.

Former Moran resident Brian Stagg, MD, one the first ARCS scholars, joined Moran as a faculty member in 2019. Now a glaucoma specialist and population health researcher, he reflects on the honor.

What was your ARCS research project, and how did it feel to receive the award at that stage in your education? I used the funds to support my research on improving glaucoma decision-making using big data with mentors from the University of Michigan. This ended up being a huge support for my career as I went on to become a National Clinician Scholar research fellow studying population health there. I still collaborate with those mentors.

Since then, what have you considered the highlight of your career as a researcher?  Receiving a career development award from the National Eye Institute to study clinical decision support for glaucoma.

What are you most proud of in terms of your research?

I am using data analytics to help ensure that patients with glaucoma receive the care they need. My goal is to enhance the provider-patient relationship by allowing glaucoma doctors to more quickly assess the data and adapt it to their patient’s needs. It is personalized medicine at the point of care.

Scan to learn more about the ARCS program at Moran.

Scan to learn more about Dr. Stagg’s glaucoma public health research.

Brian Stagg, MD

Flipping Traditional Learning Models

Residents and faculty were ready for a change. How could they improve their education curriculum, previously structured around daily, one-hour traditional lectures?

They turned to a flipped classroom curriculum model.

After a collaborative effort based on resident and faculty input, the Moran Ophthalmology Learning Experience (MOLE) committee in July 2020 launched a new flipped curriculum (see model diagram below) rooted in learning objectives, pre-work assignments, interactive learning activities, providing feedback to attendings, and regular meetings between residents and faculty on the MOLE committee.

MOLE committee members, including resident Brandon Kennedy, MD, Sravanthi Vegunta, MD, Rachel Simpson, MD, Griffin Jardine, MD, and Katherine Hu, MD, recently presented survey results showing that roughly two-thirds of residents and attendings prefer the flipped classroom style three years after implementation.

Attending-Reported Level of Participation

Among the Findings:

◗ Faculty reported that resident participation levels increased in post-flipped classroom lectures.

◗ Residents reported increased time spent preparing for flipped classroom lectures compared to traditional lectures.

◗ Yearly attendance rates also increased from 61.7% to 84.2%.

◗ Pre-work assignments preferred by residents included Basic and Clinical Science Course chapters with study guides or specific learning objectives and video recordings of lectures.

◗ Active learning techniques preferred by residents included case-based learning and oral boards-styled reviews.

Takeaway Points:

◗ A flipped classroom curriculum can improve faculty and resident satisfaction, lecture participation, and attendance.

◗ Feedback from residents and attendings is integral to continuing to make curriculum improvements.

Learn More

Scan or visit for more information and resources on flipped classroom learning techniques.

Learning Objectives ➥ Pre-work ➦ ➥ Individual Quiz Discussion Mini-Lecture ➥ Interactive Learning Exercises ➥
Moderate to excellent participation Pre-flipped classroom 3-year post-flipped classroom Minimal to no participation 20 15 10 5 0 Response Count

Why Utah?

What’s it like to be a resident at the John A. Moran Eye Center? Follow @moraneyeresidents on Instagram to join the adventure!

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