Dalhousie University - Ophthalmology - Halifax


Program Director

Dr. Mishari Dahrab


Program Assistant

Tomma MacDonald

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The Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences provides high quality ophthalmological care for the population of Nova Scotia & Atlantic Canada, delivers excellent medical education programs and conducts internationally recognized research in a collaborative and innovative environment. Our training program strives to maintain an environment of inquiry and scholarly activity, through research, education and innovation. Lectures and seminars covering a comprehensive academic curriculum take place during the protected academic half-day every Wednesday morning. The academic curriculum covers all areas of the specialty as well as various CanMEDS roles. Apart from the academic half-day, the program includes a variety of other activities including sub-specialty teaching sessions each week, grand rounds, journal clubs, visiting professor program & surgical skills labs

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The first year will provide a broad clinical background for residents entering ophthalmology and to prepare them for the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examinations Part II. The resident will rotate through various areas of medicine and surgery, as well as neurosciences (neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology), pediatrics and ophthalmology. These rotations take place both in Halifax and Saint John, New Brunswick, to ensure an optimum learning experience. The resident attends a Canadian Ophthalmology Basic Sciences Course at the end of that year.


The resident will spend this year primarily involved in the ambulatory care of eye patients at the Eye Care Centre (located in the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences complex), rotating through general and subspecialty clinics. A research project will be started with dedicated time throughout the entire four core ophthalmology years.


The resident will be involved with rotations through other specialty services at the QEII and the pediatric service at the IWK Health Centre. The residents will begin to participate in ocular surgery and continue their research. The resident may attend a 4-week Basic Science Course in PGY3 or PGY4 year (such as Lancaster, Stanford, or Houston review courses).


Intraocular surgery experience will be a significant focus of this year with necessary emphasis on modern surgical techniques including cataract surgery. The surgical skills will be practiced in our state-of-the-art surgical skills laboratory. The resident will provide consultation to the QEII Health Sciences Centre. A community-based rotation is included. Elective time is also available.


This year will comprise further rotations through the various services. Elective periods are provided where the resident will be encouraged to seek training and experience outside of Halifax. Rotations through general and specialty services will be provided to meet the individual needs of the resident and to prepare for the upcoming Royal College Examinations. A community-based rotation is included. Surgical experience will continue during this year. Further research opportunities are available.


In our program, the minimum requirement for research includes three presentations at the Annual Departmental Research Day. Various awards are available for outstanding projects, as well as travelling funds for their presentation. The two winning papers at the Departmental Annual Research Day are awarded prizes that include support for national and international meeting presentations. In addition, the Dalhousie Medical School offers a Clinician Investigatorship Program, which supports one full year of research during residency to help establish a potential career as a clinician scientist for worthy candidates. In ophthalmology this is offered between the PGY-3 and PGY-4 years. Basic and clinical research in visual sciences and oculogenetics are now well established at the medical school at Dalhousie. Residents can benefit from these exciting and rewarding research opportunities.


Why your program?/How is it different than other ophthalmology programs?

Dalhousie ophthalmology residency program is uniquely positioned as it is based out of the tertiary eye care center for the Martime provinces. With a large catchment area, our residents are exposed to a wide range of interesting and varied pathology. All ophthalmic sub-specialties are represented at Dalhousie. The relatively small program size enables a high resident-to-faculty ratio, collegial atmosphere, generous operating room availability, and the ability to have a personalized experience through the training program. Unlike many other academic departments, there are only two clinical fellowships at Dalhousie, which enables residents to be heavily involved in sub-speciality ORs and clinics. Dalhousie also prides itself on a strong research mandate and residents get a dedicated half day of research per week throughout their four ophthalmology years.

How has COVID-19 changed your program? (Ex. Zoom grand rounds)

COVID-19 has changed several aspects of the program, with the largest impact being the transition to more virtual education. Our grand rounds and the majority of the teaching sessions have been occurring over the Zoom platform. In order to best prepare our residents for the virtual Royal College Exam, our mock department exams will also be following a virtual format this year

What is the call system like at Dalhousie? (Ex. senior buddy? Less call in PGY5?) (commonly asked)

The call system is a buddy system with a junior resident (PGY2 and 3) paired with a senior resident (PGY4 and 5). There is always a surgical retina staff and a general ophthalmology staff available as well. The Chief resident in conjunction with the program director and education coordinator manage the call schedule to ensure that it is fair and within the guidelines.

Where do your residents end up after they graduate? (Ex. fellowship programs, academic vs community jobs)

Our residents end up in a variety of different positions after they graduate. Some elect to pursue fellowships prior to starting practice and others enter practice right away. Our former residents are represented across the country in various academic programs and communities.

Are there global opportunities available throughout the program?

There are elective blocks available in the PGY4 and 5 years which may be used to pursue an international elective.

Do you have a mentorship program between staff and residents?

There is no mandatory mentorship program between staff and residents. However, some residents will for various reasons request or be assigned a mentor. The program will help match the resident with an appropriate mentor. In addition, numerous informal mentorships exist given the close-knit nature of the department and residency program.