Why Iowa

Old CapitolPhoto by University Relations Photography/University of Iowa  

A Tradition of Excellence

We are proud that our program is recognized as one of the finest ophthalmology training centers in the world. There is a steady flow of patients, the faculty are readily accessible, intellectual curiosity is vigorous and encouraged, and research is active in a large variety of areas. The department provides an environment that fosters not only intellectual curiosity and collaboration but also a commitment to teaching and patient care.

The University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has enjoyed a long history of excellence in its residency and fellowship training programs. The University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology came into existence in 1925 when University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics was built. Dr. C.S. O’Brien was appointed as the first head of the department. He immediately began to emphasize training of academic clinicians and research in ophthalmology. This policy has continued with his successors, Alson E. Braley (1950-1967), Frederick C. Blodi (1967- 1984), Charles D. Phelps (1984-1985), Thomas A. Weingeist (1986- 2005), and Keith D. Carter (2006-present).

We have consistently been rated in the top ten Ophthalmology programs in U.S.News & World Report.

A First-Rate Hospital

UIHCPhoto by University Relations Photography/University of Iowa  

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is a state-of-the-art facility. We have sophisticated services and comprehensive resources. We are one of "America's Best Hospitals" designated by U.S.News & World Report.

We serve a large Midwest region for both primary care and specialized care. We are the state's highest level of referral for several specialties. This comprehensive nature assures that during your residency you will be exposed to a broad mix of patients and conditions.

Excellence in Patient Care

Our department’s philosophy toward patient care is another example of its commitment toward residency training. All our patients are treated equally. We make no distinction among private, public, or indigent care. Residents, fellows, and faculty work side by side to evaluate and care for the same patients. Faculty staff all clinic patients and surgeries. The faculty is committed to the philosophy that clinical acumen and surgical excellence cannot occur without expert teaching and supervision.

Our Residency Program is Accredited and Well-Established

We meet and exceed the standards set by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). We have been consistently ranked in the top ten of Ophthalmology Residency Programs by Ophthalmology Times. The rigorous training and opportunities afforded by our program translate into outstanding placement for our residents in fellowship programs, academic opportunities and private practice positions.

Morning Rounds

Our program is one of the few, if not the only, training program in the nation that offers grand rounds four days a week.

Residents, fellows, and faculty congregate in the Alson E. Braley Auditorium for an informal, friendly, and often lively exchange of interesting patient cases. These daily rounds are the heart of the teaching program of this department and set it apart from every other ophthalmology department in the country. They are both educational and stimulating. Because of our broad patient referral base it is possible to conduct rounds on a daily basis without running out of interesting material to present. This referral base, which includes all of Iowa and the neighboring states of Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri, provides an extensive and formidable source for eye pathology from which everyone can learn. In the United States today, few training programs are afforded such a referral base.

We offer other venues for presentation of cases and clinical observations as well including on-call rounds, genetics rounds, fluorescein conference, and clinical conferences.


The cases and discussions presented by Residents and Fellows at Grand Rounds are often further developed and published as case reports and tutorials on EyeRounds.org, a website of the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Each day, thousands of visitors from around the globe access these educational materials freely via the internet. While academic research and traditional publications remain a cornerstone of the academic experience at Iowa, we encourage the EyeRounds educational materials, which are internally peer-reviewed, as an adjunctive way for Residents and Fellows to share case reports, surgical videos, and discussions with the world.

Collegiality and Friendly Working / Living Environment

Of the many strengths that contribute to our program’s strong reputation, one of the greatest is its long history of collegiality and its friendly working and living environment. For many years the Department has enjoyed the reputation of being a pleasant and congenial place to work. We value this reputation because we believe that the best atmosphere for learning ophthalmology is one that is friendly and supportive. Faculty are committed to teaching, enjoy working with the residents in the clinic and operating room, and welcome their questions and ideas. In general, faculty are encouraged to be mentors and to meet with residents and fellows on a one-to-one basis. Group meetings with residents and fellows occur throughout the year. “Town Meetings” with all employees of the department are scheduled quarterly. We believe this approach to resident and fellowship training keeps the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology at the forefront of postgraduate education.

Salary, Benefits

Our first-year residents earn an annual salary above the 50th percentile nationally. Couple that fact with the relatively modest cost of living in the Iowa City area, and UI Hospitals and Clinics compares very well to programs in large urban settings. We are one of the few programs nationally to offer complete medical coverage for residents and their spouses and dependents at no charge.

We Sweat the Details

The dedicated professionals in our Graduate Medical Education office see to it that your time and effort are concentrated where they need to be--on your patients and on your career development. Your work as a resident will be demanding enough. With that in mind, our Graduate Medical Education office has developed a suite of services to handle the details of employment and licensure.

Quality of Life

Iowa City and surrounding communities get consistently high ratings from national indexes of great places to live. Affordable housing, outstanding schools, moderate cost of living, superb shopping and entertainment, excellent transportation, and a mix of diverse cultures all make it a great choice, especially when you consider that much of it is available within easy walking or biking distance from our world-class hospital.

Being located on a Big Ten University campus creates a big plus for our residents. The University is a lively place for cultural and recreational activities. It is a hub for high-level sports and offers the excellent libraries, museums, and cultural centers you'd expect from a Big Ten school. Iowa has the smallest enrollment among the public Big Ten schools, which translates into a campus that's easy to navigate and a surrounding community that supports everything we do for our students and trainees.