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Lions Clinic Enables Real-World Training

The Lions Eye Clinic served more than 4,000 Alabamians in 2017.
The Lions Eye Clinic serves patients through providing eye exams, referrals for low-vision assistance, and other important services for patients in need of eye care. Last year alone, the Lions Clinic served more than 4,000 Alabamians.

The clinic’s mission is to provide exceptional patient care, and a vital component of that is providing real-world training to future ophthalmologists. During training, residents rotate through the Birmingham Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital and Cooper Green Mercy Clinic. This is accomplished with the help of the administrative and technical staff support that is needed to run a professional clinic. While these changes benefit third-year residents, the clinic also trains first-year residents and medical students.

With the third rotation in the Lions Clinic, the UAB Ophthalmology Residency Training Program has set forth a vision for training that affords third-year residents an experience akin to a private practice that they run, setting them up for success when they enter practice.

“The Lions Clinic provides an excellent training experience in diagnosis and management of a wide range of advanced pathology in an autonomy-supported environment,” says Crystal Daigle, MD, a first-year ophthalmology resident.

The Department of Ophthalmology recently assumed managerial responsibilities for the Lions Clinic including staffing and providing the EHR system. Russell W. Read, MD, PhD, the Max and Lorayne Cooper Endowed Professor in Ophthalmology Residency Training, says with this transition, the Lions Clinic now is like any other clinic of Callahan Eye Hospital and provides more efficiency in terms of staffing and coverage.

“When residents graduate from the Department of Ophthalmology residency training program, they either begin a fellowship for specialized study or they enter private practice,” Dr. Read says. “Those who enter private practice typically go directly into a high-volume clinic setting and need these skills to succeed in a modern eye clinic. The Lions Clinic gives them that opportunity.”

To ensure ready access to attending supervision, Dr. Read relocated his uveitis clinic to the Lions Clinic. He says the department wants residents to have enough autonomy to develop their own skills, but it is also important that they have access to an attending.