Fellowship Standards

In April 2005, the AUPO-Fellowship Compliance Committee (FCC) began to accept web-based applications from Fellowship Directors. The programs that meet the requirements were listed on the AUPO-FCC webpage as “being in compliance with the AUPO-FCC subspecialty guidelines.” Additionally, the programs were able to state in their program description for the San Francisco Ophthalmology Fellowship Matching Program (SF-OFMP) that they were “in compliance with the AUPO-FCC subspecialty fellowship guidelines” and notify applicants as such.

A listing of available fellowships is on the SF-OFMP webpage, www.sfmatch.org. The cost of the program is minimal ($250 per program per year for up to 2 fellowship positions and $50 for each additional fellow). All positions must be listed through the SF-OFMP. The bulk of the expense to set up and maintain the compliance program is born by the AUPO and the individual subspecialty societies.

The Cornea Society urges all programs to participate. It is our belief this will strengthen the quality of training, improve its educational component, and assist residents in fellowship selection.

Over the last three years there has been much discussion, heated at times, concerning formal American Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation of subspecialty fellowships and American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) subspecialty certification. While this has been an ongoing discussion in our field, the recent events started when the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS) announced that they would seek formal ACGME/ABO accreditation and certification. ASOPRS then asked the AAO to support their application. The ABO then asked the AAO to poll its members (via the Council) on the subject of CAQs (certificates of added qualifications). This is the process of Fellowship Certification by the ABO in conjunction with the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) under ACGME regulations.

While the Cornea Society supports Fellowship Guidelines, we, as well as the majority of other subspecialty societies, have very actively opposed subspecialty certification under ACGME guidelines (#1 below). We have been working with the AUPO to establish a Fellowship Oversight Committee and recognize those fellowships that meet the guidelines. At the 2005 AUPO meeting in Phoenix, the AUPO-FCC was formally established and the Fellowship Guidelines for Cornea, External Disease & Refractive Surgery were accepted (see below). Cornea and Pediatric Ophthalmology will be the two specialties to initiate the web-based system for the academic year starting July 2005 (the application process will be available April 1, 2005). Glaucoma, Retina, Neuro-ophthalmology, Uveitis, and Pathology anticipate entering the system in 2006. The Society urges all Fellowships to participate in this voluntary program. It is our belief that this will strengthen the quality of subspecialty training and allow residents advanced knowledge of the medical and surgical materials expected to be covered during the fellowship year.

Please also reference:

1. The Cornea Society statement to the Council of the American Academy of Ophthalmology

2. The Fellowship Guidelines generated by The Cornea Society