Connecting Fellows to Advance Global Ophthalmology

Mar 26, 2021 9:00 AM

In 2020, the Moran Eye Center co-hosted the first Global Ophthalmology Symposium to bring together fellowship trainees from across the nation.

Ashlie Bernhisel, MD, Moran’s current global fellow, performs outreach care during a pre-2020 international trip.
Ashlie Bernhisel, MD, Moran’s current global fellow, performs outreach care during a pre-2020 international trip.

One of the few academic eye centers in the U.S. to have a dedicated outreach division, the John A. Moran Eye Center established the nation’s first global ophthalmology fellowship.

Now, six more programs offer a fellowship, and in 2020 Moran co-hosted the first annual Global Ophthalmology Symposium with Emory University. The virtual event created discussions and collaborations designed to push the field forward and strengthen an international mission of sustainable eye care. The symposium covered topics including the global burden of blindness, public eye health campaigns, cultural competence, ethics, and tackling medical and surgical approaches that differ in low-resource settings.

“The event was exciting,” said Ashlie Bernhisel, MD, Moran’s current global fellow. “We exchanged knowledge and experience and established a sense of camaraderie. That was especially welcome during the unique circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Fellows continue to connect digitally for journal clubs, guest speakers, and domestic outreach collaborations.

“Global ophthalmology is a burgeoning field with new fellowships coming online throughout the country,” said Moran Vice Chair for Education Jeff Pettey, MD, MBA. “As more academic departments establish fellowships, Moran’s experience allows for rich collaboration on topics such as public health, healthcare disparities, and unique surgical procedures used in global ophthalmology settings.”

Fellowships provide opportunities to deepen compassion and become a better physician, said Pettey. “We pride ourselves in allowing Moran global fellows to lead projects in their unique areas of interest and expertise.”

Bernhisel recently completed a master’s degree in Public Health in Eye Care. Currently, she is researching telehealth and participating in a major community eye care needs assessment at Moran.

Past Moran fellows have taken on projects including initiating glaucoma training for ophthalmologists in Tanzania; developing an open-access, interactive online ophthalmic curriculum for nurse training in Ghana; and coordinating efforts to produce critical personal protective equipment for outreach partners in Haiti, Tanzania, Ghana, and Nepal.

Making Connections

Seven U.S. institutions offer global fellowships and participated in the symposium:

  • Emory University
  • University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Stanford University
  • University of Utah

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