They’ve Met Their Match: Residency Match Day 2019

Last month, Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) Class of 2019 students who decided to pursue a residency after their upcoming May graduation, anxiously opened up a confidential email to find out where they were matched for their residency. These students joined other optometry students across the country in a day called Match Day.

The first ever accredited year-long optometric residency began in 1976 at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo. Accredited on-campus residencies at The Eye Institute (TEI) began in 1978 after it was constructed. Continuing to grow each year, there were 456 residency positions – both on-campus and affiliated - offered in 2018.

As one might expect, the process is highly regulated. All accredited residencies have to participate through ORMatch - an application service that provides an orderly process to help programs find applicants and vice versa. Many in the healthcare industry use a similar process.

The application first gets submitted through ORMatch for a program. The candidate then sends the program required pieces of the application including letters of recommendation, letter of intent, transcripts, etc., and there is usually a face-to-face interview process. After the interview process is complete, candidates rank the programs they interviewed with and programs rank the candidates in which they interviewed. There is a complex algorithm that ORMatch runs and then releases results on Match Day.

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Dr. Bhawan Minhas & current TEI residents 

“There is always a buzz or electricity in the air on Match Day,” said Bhawan Minhas, OD, FAAO, director of the University’s On-Campus Residency Programs. “March 18th may seem like any other day for fourth-year students and residency directors, but we are all waiting in anticipation for results to come out! It is always exciting to see who decided to pursue a residency and where everyone ended up.”

After Match Day, the unmatched positions and candidates can choose to go into a post-match process which is informally called the “Scramble.”

Although residencies are not required in optometry, it does provide an extra year of intense training and education some graduates take on to focus in certain specialties and to enhance their career opportunities.

Most residencies are a one-year program, but the Neuro-Ophthalmic Disease residency is two- years at TEI, and the first of its kind.

Chad & Dr. Erin KennyPCO students have been matched to some of the most prestigious residency programs in the nation. Several are often matched to residency programs at their home away from home – TEI.

And, that's where Chad Killen '19OD has been matched. "Being matched with the low vision residency at The William Feinbloom Low Vision Center at TEI was one of the happiest days of my life," said Killen. "Since my first day shadowing there all I’ve wanted to do was to help patients achieve personal goals that they thought they no longer could due to their vision. The staff at Feinbloom are inspiring, collaborative, and work tirelessly to connect patients with resources that give them independence and purpose. To be a part of that experience and learn from my mentors at Feinbloom will help me develop into the well rounded, innovative, and compassionate optometrist I aspire to be."

 A residency at TEI includes the opportunity to serve a broad, complex patient population, interact with nationally and globally recognized Salus faculty, and to utilize available resources that support students throughout the program. This is what makes the residency programs at TEI so competitive among applicants.

“We are very proud of the diversity of our incoming residency class - we have residents from eight different optometry schools this year,” said Dr. Minhas. “New backgrounds mean fresh ideas and innovation which we like to embrace at Salus.”

According to Minhas, residency is a tough year of intense training but, those that pursue it are extremely dedicated.

“We are so happy that these extremely accomplished graduates from such a wide array of institutions throughout the country are joining us next year,” said Dr. Minhas.