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Training a Complete Ophthalmologist—Tacos Included

A small-group breakout during a TACO Tuesday session.
A small-group breakout during a TACO Tuesday session.

New Moran resident-driven interactive sessions focus on non-clinical but essential topics.

Once a month, John A. Moran Eye Center residents gather to mingle and learn in a comfortable setting replete with tacos at the end of a busy workday. The gathering is casual, but the topics covered carry serious weight—essentials that will help round out their careers.

“Clinical and surgical skill and wisdom form the core of what it takes to be an excellent ophthalmologist,” said Moran’s Brian Stagg, MD. “And Moran has always provided the best possible clinical and surgical training, but we also know it takes more than that to become a complete ophthalmologist.”

That philosophy led Stagg and other Moran faculty to launch Training a Complete Ophthalmologist (TACO), a monthly session focused on what it takes to become leaders in ophthalmology. Topics have included medical research, quality improvement, health policy, health disparities, global health, leadership, communication, the business of medicine, and personal wellness.

“That’s a lot of information–enough to add to our curriculum so we could formalize this training and ensure that every resident emerges from our program ready to make an impact,” said Stagg.

Dubbed “TACO Tuesday,” the course naturally involves enjoying delicious tacos from local eateries while discussing topics that, according to Stagg, “rarely come up in training but are extremely important.”

Residents help plan the interactive sessions. Each gathering has a course leader who organizes the evening’s agenda, which may include a panel discussion, group activity, journal club, or a flipped classroom (variations on the opposite of a teacher-to-student lecture).

“TACO Tuesday immerses residents in fields outside of the core ophthalmology training that are vital to their success,” said Moran Vice Chair of Education Jeff Pettey, MD, MBA. “It gives them a chance to absorb wisdom and perspectives every patient wants their doctor to know beyond the medical expertise.”

Resident Abigail Jebaraj, MD, listens to a TACO Tuesday presentation.
Resident Abigail Jebaraj, MD, listens to a TACO Tuesday presentation.
"One of my favorite TACO Tuesdays was a leadership discussion with Drs. Randall Olson and Mary Elizabeth Hartnett. They answered our questions candidly and shared so much wisdom. They talked about managing and motivating a team, and that’s something I really appreciated hearing early in my career."
Ariana Levin MD, resident

Continuing Curriculum Innovation

In 2020, Moran introduced two highly successful initiatives driven by Moran residents. One is a new, interactive oph­thalmology curriculum championed by a group of residents, fellows, and attending physicians. Named the Moran Ophthal­mology Learning Experience (MOLE), the group collaborated to shift to more interactive, case-based learning that has resulted in completely revamped lesson plans.

Residents also helped design a wellness plan to tackle burnout, with two administrative half-days a month. Residents can use the time for anything that helps them catch up—whether it’s hiking or skiing or easing stress with extra study time.

Now, there are TACO Tuesdays in the mix.

“Training as a physician and surgeon is more than just book smarts and research, which is why I love this program,” said Theresa Long, MD, a third-year and chief resident. “One of my favorite sessions was on the health care system. The health care system is incredibly complex and what we learned is applicable to all of us, no matter where we end up practicing.”