Welcome to Wills!
Since 1972, Wills has served as the department of Ophthalmology for Thomas Jefferson University’s medical school, then known as Jefferson Medical College, the 9th oldest medical school in the country, and our residency program is the "Wills Eye Residency Program at Jefferson." Jefferson Health is now the sixth largest medical system in the country, and its many professional schools, huge clinical volume, and academic and research breadth contribute tremendously to opportunities for our eye residents.
We hope you will find it as engaging, inspiring, and warm a place to work and learn as we do.
Wills Eye Hospital is absolutely unique in all the world: a gift of the Quaker merchant James Wills to the City of Philadelphia in 1832. He gave the fortune he made from his grocery business, to build a hospital for the indigent blind – and thus Wills became the nation’s first eye specialty hospital.
In 1839, the first physician to be trained in Ophthalmology as a specialty came to Wills, and in our 185 years of existence we have trained the most ophthalmologists of any program in the country. Wills also started fellowship programs in the early days of eye subspecialty development, so taking all our trainees together, we have the largest and most generous alumni body in the country. One of the special benefits of joining the “Wills Eye Family” is becoming part of this network which circles the globe, and gives back to Wills in many ways that impact on the quality of life of our residents while they are here, and on their future prospects.
As you may know, we consider everyone we interview to be a great candidate for our residency – we are convinced by your record and your enthusiastic mentors that you would flourish at Wills. We look forward to getting to know you better during your visit, and to following your career trajectories with admiration
Julia A. Haller, MD
The Wills Eye Residency Through the Eyes of a Resident
For additional information about the residency program at Wills Eye Hospital, click on the links below.
Applications for residency must be submitted through the Central Application Service (CAS) of the San Francisco Matching Program. We do not require additional materials or paperwork. Only applicants who meet the eligibility and selection requirements will be considered.
After July 1, 2021 we will begin accepting applications for the class of 2026. Deadline for receipt of materials from CAS is October 1, 2021. After all applications have been reviewed by the entire committee, invitations to interview will be extended in mid-November. Interviews will be held in December.
For more information on the application process, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I apply? We accept all applications through the Central Application Service of the San Francisco Match. We do not require additional materials or paperwork.
How many applications do you receive and what are you looking for in an applicant? We receive more than 500 applications and carefully review each one. Our Selection Committee is comprised of 14 members, both faculty and residents. With so many talented and impressive individuals, it is an extremely difficult decision. We look for intelligent, compassionate individuals who are team players and eager to learn in a program with a large clinical volume.
Do you have a cut-off for USMLE Steps 1 & 2 scores? Although the average three digit score of interviewees is greater than 245, we do not have a minimum USMLE score requirement. We review all applications thoroughly and do not screen applications based upon scores.
Do you have any unfilled positions? We do not have any vacancies. The best way to find unfilled positions is to contact the San Francisco Match.
Do you consider foreign graduates? We accept applications from international medical graduates who meet eligibility requirements including GME guidelines and Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine requirements for VISA status and sponsorship during training. For specific questions, please contact Jefferson's Office of International Affairs.
How many residents are in your program? Currently, we have 24 residents with eight positions offered each year.
When does your program start? Residency begins with orientation on July 1. If July 1 falls on a weekend, orientation is held on the preceding Friday.
What do your graduates do? We aim to equip our residents with the foundation and skills needed to do whatever they choose. Depending upon individual interests and aspirations, each year roughly half our residents enter practice and half pursue subspecialty training. Our graduates have pursued fellowship in every subspecialty, although Retina, Oculoplastics, and Cornea have been the most popular choices of our recent graduates.
What are your strengths? Some of our greatest strengths include our clinical volume and research, the Eye Emergency Department, and expert faculty in every subspecialty – including Ocular Pathology. We are especially proud of our talented residents who continue the Wills Eye tradition of esprit de corps among faculty, staff, trainees, and support personnel.
What is the schedule for each year?
PGY 2: Residents spend the bulk of their time in general clinics, the Emergency Room, Pathology, Neuro-Ophthalmology Service, and the Oculoplastics Service. First-years perform minor procedures and lasers as well as extraocular surgery including enucleations/eviscerations and muscle surgeries. They also rotate through each of the major subspecialty Services.
PGY 3: Residents spend more time in the subspecialty Services with increased responsibility for patient care and teaching. They are primarily responsible for the emergency room both during the day and overnight and for inpatient consults at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Second-years perform cataract surgery and more complicated lasers and minor procedures.
PGY 4: Residents function with increased responsibility in the general and subspecialty clinics and perform all types of ocular surgery. Every case is directly supervised; in a supportive learning environment, residents develop skills and confidence so they can perform surgery competently and independently.
Is there any special coursework for the first years as they begin residency? We provide a three-week "pre-residency course" for first year residents. Half the day is spent attending lectures with first years from local programs. In addition to learning the basics of Ophthalmology, this is an excellent opportunity to get to know your colleagues from other programs. The rest of the day is spent in clinics; during this time, first year residents see very few patients as they gain practical experience with the exam and instruments in a relaxed teaching environment.
What are the didactic sessions like? We host a robust series of didactic lectures, case presentations, and surgical conferences. The Academic Calendar outlines educational sessions offered throughout the year. The Professional Monthly Bulletin lists specific activities for each day of the month.
Do you have an OKAP review course? Wills Eye hosts an evening Night Review Course every February and March. It mirrors the content of the Wills Eye Annual Review Course and is attended by local residents and fellows.
Do you have an Ophthalmic library? Yes. Residents have 24/7 access to the Charles D. Kelman Library at Wills Eye, and the Scott Memorial Library at Jefferson.
Do you have a wetlab for residents to practice? Yes. Our residents have both wetlab and drylab practice opportunities. Each year, our faculty organize microsurgical, phacoemulsification, orbital dissection, suturing and subspecialty surgical courses and labs. In addition, residents work with faculty surgical mentors and have 24/7 access to a state-of-the-art practice lab. It contains the same equipment we use in the Operating Room.
Are residents required to perform research? Yes. Residents may choose from the many research opportunities with faculty in each subspecialty or design their own projects. Although many residents complete several projects, each resident is expected to complete one publication-quality project during training. All research costs as well as travel and lodging related to presentations of projects are funded.