The Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center tends to be busy, so be proactive and ask if there is an empty exam room for you to use to work up patients on your own. This is the best way to learn ophthalmology. If there is an empty room, you can call your own patients from the waiting room, check their vision and do a basic ophthalmologic exam. Practice and learn to use the clinical instruments such as the tonopen, slit lamp, and ophthalmoscope. When you have completed your evaluation, present your patient to the assigned resident. If there are no empty rooms for you to use, the best use of your time will be to work with a resident that has a side viewing scope on their slit lamp (note that not all of the slit lamps have a teaching side scope attached). This way, you will be able to see what the resident is seeing during their exam.
Minor procedures and lasers are scheduled during the clinic hours. You may assist the residents in minor procedures such as eyelid biopsies, blepharoplasties, and intravitreal injections. The argon laser does not have a teaching scope, but the Nd:Yag laser does. Surgeries are typically scheduled Tuesday through Thursday and start at 7:30 a.m. sharp. You should plan to see a few cataract surgeries during your rotation. The operating microscope is attached to a computer screen which you can watch.