Innovative “Pay It Forward” Training Program for Specialty Eye Surgeons

Source: The Refractive Surgery Alliance

The Refractive Surgery Alliance (RSA) announced the creation of a new and innovative training program for vision correction surgeons.

The RSA program structure is unique and recognizes the expanding and rapidly evolving field refractive surgery. Instead of training surgeons under a single preceptor’s guidance at one site over 1 year, the RSA program incorporates a network of training sites that follow a standardized curriculum over 2 years. Fellows spend 9 months per year at their home site and rotate for up to 3 months a year at other sites in the RSA network, and they participate in didactic Conclaves and ABO board prep programs as a group. The curriculum includes clinical and surgical training, as well as training in technology, innovation, research, teaching, business and leadership.

The RSA Fellowship Network is the product of months of development by a team of highly qualified refractive surgeons, led by Helen Wu, MD, of Tufts University, Dan Durrie, MD, of Durrie Vision in Kansas City, Kansas, and RSA Founder Guy Kezirian, MD, MBA of Scottsdale, Arizona.

“The Networks’ investment in each fellowship is significant. Fellows will be compensated with six-figure salaries, plus significant program benefits, which is considerably higher than traditional ophthalmology fellows. To make the program sustainable, graduating fellows fulfill a 3-year service commitment at an RSA Affiliated Practice at the end of the fellowship. They are compensated at full market rate for a refractive surgeon during this time, even while paying-it-forward to fund the next set of fellows,” Guy Kezirian, MD, MBA, said in a news release. “Accelerating growth in all segments of the refractive surgery market makes this model very attractive for everyone. We believe that the combination of training and job placement is the best way to ensure success.”

“This program represents a significant departure from the status quo,” said Greg Parkhurst, MD, RSA President. “We started with the question: What would a training program look like if the goal was to produce the highest skilled refractive surgeons in the world, and position them to lead the field for the next generation? The result was a completely new program.”

“Refractive surgery goes well beyond LASIK,” said Helen Wu, MD, program Chairperson. “The scope includes all forms of corneal and lens based refractive procedures—LASIK, surface ablation, SMILE, corneal inlays, refractive lens exchange, cataract refractive surgery, phakic IOLs and corneal strengthening procedures – as well the as medical management of refractive errors in adolescents. The skills needed to practice refractive surgery at a high level require time to develop. Fellows are expected to perform over 1,000 procedures during their 2-year fellowship.”

The RSA fellowship program incorporates programs that it has provided for its members since 2014:

  • The “RSA Foundations” technical courses equip surgeons to actively participate in innovation and are led by Michael Mrochen, PhD, a leading ophthalmic scientist and innovator.
  • Clinical didactics are taught in a variety of “RSA Solutions” programs such as that offered by Dan Reinstein, MD, of the London Vision Clinic. 
  • Business and leadership training is provided through the acclaimed PHYSICIAN CEO program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

“The PHYSICIAN CEO program is a game changer,” said Dan Durrie, MD. “I took it myself in 2017. It transforms physicians into confident leaders.”

The curriculum for the RSA Fellowship Network will be overseen by the newly formed College of Refractive Surgery, which oversees curriculum and accreditation for training in refractive surgery for surgeons and ancillary personnel. The College of Refractive Surgeons is independent from the RSA.  

Applications for the July 2019 RSA Fellowship Network will open in mid-September 2018. The application process will be highly selective. RSA Fellows will be selected and notified by early December, outside and before the match. Information will be posted on the RSA website at www.RefractiveAlliance.com.

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