diet_dr_thunder

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UIC, loyola, university of chicago, rush, northwestern, cook county. how would you rank them?
 

m3unsure

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diet_dr_thunder said:
UIC, loyola, university of chicago, rush, northwestern, cook county. how would you rank them?
Based on information rolling around from various residents and professors (who don't have the "my program is the greatest" bias), they are listed below with some other details in no particular order.

1. UIC - academically supportive, faculty are nice (a few intimidating at first), hours are balanced (730 morn report to around 5), well-known faculty (Dr. Goldstein, Blair, Sugar), new established MEEI dept head (helps for fellowship LOR)

2. UofC - good name; however, previous faculty turnover may be an issue (they are trying to beef it up now). I can't say much.

3. Loyola - mainly surgery based (high volume esp with Heinz VA), haven't heard of anything malignant.

4. Rush - only 2 residents per year. Busy 2ndary surgery volume. Faculty seems nice, but on Scutwork, a poster said 1 doc is quite intimidating.

5. NWH - prestige, surgical volume lacking so they do go to Louisiana for some training (they have no VA right now). I can't say anything about the faculty. UIC, UofC, and/or Loyola are better programs by most people's opinion.

6. COOK - belongs at the bottom. If you want a fellowship, this probably not the place to go just because it's not an academic institution. However, I'm sure they see crazy stuff.


In the end, you should determine the surgical volume at interviews and compare the numbers (how many cataracts? etc). And I hope that this field doesn't die away with the optometrists trying to make their way onto the scene. Only a step up from lawyers.
 

xaelia

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One of our residents said good things about Loyola, particularly with regards to their surgical volume and clinical training. He was less excited about University of Chicago, as felt like the research side of things was emphasized more, and he wasn't interested in that.

Our former program director gave UIC an "A" when I met with him to discuss programs for my application.
 
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sisyphus22

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Can someone do this for some of the new york schools?
 

theeyeboy

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I have been in some form of ophthalmology/medical training in Chicago for 8 of the last 9 years. Let me give you my perspective on each Chitown program in alphabetical order: [Disclaimer: it is my perspective.]

Cook: High pathology, low on supervision and subspecialty expertise. This program used to be very low key but is now making a push to become more rigorous. When I was training the residents all liked working there. There are some very nice attendings (Dray, Welchel, Oliver, Nichols, Becker). They have virtually brand new clinics but no technical support. The hospital does not have a vitrector so exposure to that is low to say the least. Numbers for other procdures are great. Not the most academic place in town but recent residents have gone onto fellowships in glaucoma (Duke), peds (Cedars Sinai), cornea (Southwesterna) and retina (Vancouver). This may be the place for you if you are a self starter and don't need your hand held all the time. No fellows to steal cases.

Loyola: This place used to be a surgical powerhouse 250-300 cataracts (now 160-190) and plenty of subspecialty cases. It may be in trouble with regards to plastics cases since the only plastics guy just left. A glaucoma attending also left last year. Loyola has the best VA eye clinic in the country, period. Full technical support, full-time attendings, and brand new clinics, with an OR that cranks 4 days a week. The chairman is the nicest guy in the world and creates a fairly good culture for the residents with low scut work and good mix of autonomy/supervision. The new program director is nice and should be great for the program. Traditionally graduates from this program never did fellowships because they could do cornea, plastics and glaucoma on graduation. This is probably not the case anymore. Not the best academic repuation but recent graduates have knocked down some great fellowships. This hospital has one of the nicest gyms in town. No fellows here.

Northwestern: High on academic prestige and and tough call. On the average side for cataract volume, low on specialty cases. In this program you get to work with a few famous people (Jampol, Mets). The overall culture is more resident friendly than it was a few years ago. The program director is great. Recently had the VA downsized and will either be sharing or running parallel services with UIC at Westside VA. Residents have a great surgical experience for 4 months in Louisiana. Clinics are nice and new attached to a billion dollar hospital that looks more like a luxury hotel. Graduates get fellowships at top places. By far the best location in town, possibly the entire coutry. Fellows in Peds and Retina.

Rush: Biggest upside: great but mostly part time faculty (Packo, Mizen, Epstien, Majmudar, Fountain, Brown). Downsides: Required brutal surgical internship, small program with only 2 a year (what if your co-resident is a freak or decides to quit?), during my interview I was told that you would do as many refractions as humanly possible. I am not sure about surgery numbers (no VA or county affiliations). Residents do well getting fellowships. Dr. Cohen, the energetic program director is a great guy. Newly renovated clinics. It must be good to have an ophthalmologist for a Dean. Retina fellows only.

UC: Used to be absolutely horrible. Now making a run at greatness with Dr. Mieler at the helm. However the surgical volume has been hideous here and they have no VA or County Hospital. I have heard mixed things about this program from the residents, but I have no doubt in my mind that Dr. Mieler will make this program great. Recent residents have gotten great fellowships. By the way, in my opinion UoC is the worst of the places as far as location. Clinics are newly renovated with a separate retina clinic. Only a retina fellowship here.

UIC: Used to be one of the top places in the country to train and many of your faculty advisors will steer you here. Recently the program had serious issues. A few years ago key people left, the surgical volume was dismal, and morale was in the toilet. With Dr. Azar as the new chair things should be on the up. There are some notable people here (Tessler, Wilensky, Fishman, Sugar, Putterman). There are tons of fellows around who attend on call, in the clinics, and in the OR. There are quite a few residents each year as well (too many?). Since UIC is the regional ocular trauma center call here is very busy. They currently share the Westside VA OR with NWU and may have to end up sharing the clinic as well. The clinics are generally run-down with no tech support. When you start count on shelling out a ton of money for equipment (lenses, retinoscope, indirect, muscle light...). Good subspecialty exposure at this large institution. UICs reputation lands people good fellowships.

Despite brutal winters, Chicago is a great place to train. There are common lectures and conferences that all of the programs participate in creating a sense of community to some extent among programs. Each program has its pluses and minuses and I would say that none particularly shines right now. There are also very nice transitional internships in town (Res, St. Francis, McNeal, West Sub, Swedish) if you match here. My advice: determine your goals, investigate each program carefully, ask tons of questions, and rank them as they suit you. I hope other Chicago insiders will add to my comments. Hope this helps you.
 

PDT4CNV

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I interviewed in Chicago 4 years ago at Northwestern and at UIC. At the time,
UIC's program had the best overall reputation but I sensed that things were on the decline and morale did not seem to good among the residents. At Northwestern, at the time the Lakeshore VA had not closed yet and there was a lot of uncertainty as to where the necessary surgical volume would come from if it did close. This has obviously been addressed since then with residents going out of state. Remember, even at a powerhouse like Wills in Philadelphia some of the residents go out of state. The attendings at Northwestern seemed much more resident friendly and the morale among residents was higher at NU. At the time, if I had to pick one of those two for residency, it would have been UIC because of the reputation, faculty, less extensive travel requirements, and possibly slightly higher surgical volume.

Rush had an ok reputation but was too small for me and the required internship turned me off. The word was that Cook County was to be avoided but perhaps they have made some improvements since then. Loyola had a reputation as a cataract powerhouse but lacks academics and lacks prestige in the name and was weak some subspecialty areas. UChicago was not too good at the time, perhaps they have improved some. UChicago is in a very very bad area of town, whereas Northwestern has some prime real estate in Chicago. So there are some Cons to all of the chicago programs. The required saturday conference was a con to being in chicago at all. If I had to just pick a few to interview at it would be out of Loyola, Northwestern, or UIC.

Chicago is a great place to live and while I am biased because I lived there for 4 years, I have family in New York, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Birmingham, and Boston and visit these cities not infrequently and Chicago remains my absolute favorite city. The cold is a very minor issue.
 

babyblue_39

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Agree with all of the above - pretty accurate and thorough assessment of the programs. Only additional things are that it was rumored that UIC was adding on another VA this year, which should improve numbers... and my feel on the morale of Northwestern reisdents was very poor.

Although the PD is great, the residents were a big turn off for me. During interview day, nobody seemed at all interested in talking to applicants and when one girl missed her tour because of bad weather/flight delay, the residents were obviously unwilling to take time out to give her a quick tour. One resident at another program I met on the interview trail told me that Northwestern was the only program he ended up not ranking. As it was, it ended up last on my list. It is in a great part of town, but because of the wealthy private patients in that area, it seems like they don't do much training in that area (they go up ~1 hr north to Highland Park, to a satellite clinic in another part of the city, to Louisiana, etc.) But I guess this shows you how people can draw totally different impressions of a program after a 1 day blitz that may or may not be accurate - in the end it comes down to what you are looking for in a program and the "click." So if you are at all interested in a program, it is always worth checking out for yourself.
 

OphtoMD

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Excellent analysis of the Chicago programs. I would only add that the Rush intern year is not that bad. You do Medicine, Surgery, ENT, Neurology, ID, Neurosurgery, Derm, Plastics, and Ophtho. As stated above, they also have a brand new eye clinic which is an amazing facility. I would highly recommend the program. Good luck-
 
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