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Hamilton Eye Institute to Open Revamped State-of-the-Art Surgical Training Lab

Desk-mounted microscopes in the updated Jim and Virginia McGehee Skills Transfer Center will allow residents in the UTHSC Department of Ophthalmology to hone their surgical skills.

The Hamilton Eye Institute at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is set to open the newly renovated Jim and Virginia McGehee Skills Transfer Center, where residents will undergo intensive training in ophthalmic surgery.

The center is a state-of-the-art training lab that will allow residents in the UTHSC Department of Ophthalmology to perfect their surgical skills using the latest technology. It is named in honored of Jim and Virginia McGehee, who generously gifted the laboratory to the Hamilton Eye Institute in 2005.

“It is important that we have the resources to provide the next generation of ophthalmologists with the best opportunity for success. Our residency program is the heart of the Hamilton Eye Institute, and our residents deserve the best possible education,” said Matthew W. Wilson, MD, FACS, department chair and director of the Hamilton Eye Institute. “There are going to be only a handful of academic ophthalmology departments in the country that have what we have.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the skills transfer lab will be held Friday, June 9, during the Department of Ophthalmology’s 52nd-annual Alumni/Residents’ Day. The event includes presentations from first- and second-year residents, fellow and alumni residents, and the 33rd Kambara Distinguished Visiting Professor Christine C. Nelson, MD, FACS, professor at Michigan Medicine and co-director of the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center for International Ophthalmology.

According to Wilson, when the Hamilton Eye Institute opened in 2005, it was one of the first institutions in the country to have a surgical simulator for practicing ophthalmic surgery. Over the years, the technology has become outdated, and upgrades were needed to keep the institute and its training capabilities at the highest level.

“As we set out to obtain a new surgical simulator, we were able to design an environment that will be state of the art and that will provide our residents with a premier surgical skills transfer lab that will promote and foster their education,” he said.

Improvements to the skills transfer center include new surgical simulators and other state-of-the-art technology that will help ophthalmology residents receive the best training possible.

In addition to the updated surgical simulator, the lab also has five new desk-mounted surgical microscopes, enough for every trainee in each of the department’s three resident classes. A new indirect ophthalmoscope simulator and slit lamp simulator will also help the residents hone their skills.

“The primary focus is obviously our residents, but there will be a secondary benefit to the whole College of Medicine, because we will in turn be able to provide our medical students with experiences that they would not get at competing institutions,” Dr. Wilson said.

While patients will not receive treatment at the lab, Dr. Wilson said the updated center will continue to benefit the public by preparing future ophthalmologists to take care of their community. The mounted surgical microscopes will also allow the institute to hold courses to train practicing ophthalmologists and foster continued education throughout the region.