Scenes from the resident exchange program at KEIO University, JapanKEIO University, Tokyo Japan

One of the exciting events of this academic year for our department has been the initiation of an exchange program with Keio University in Japan. In the fall, 8 residents came from Tokyo to spend 2 weeks at UIC to observe our clinicians.

From February 24 through March 8, three of our second year residents went to Japan. During their time there, they had the opportunity to both observe clinical practices and to enjoy their time in Tokyo.

On the clinical end, some surprising cultural differences in clinical approaches emerged. In Japan, not only is everyone insured, but also everything is covered. The residents noted that this seemed to affect the aggressiveness and timing of treatments. Because insurance demands didn’t cause a need to be conservative in ordering tests or determining treatment options, it seemed to the residents as though surgeries were performed earlier than here, more aggressive treatments were chosen, and more tests were ordered.

The residents were also able to see some surgeries they had never actually seen in the US due to differential treatment approaches. In the US, only pediatric glaucoma is treated with trabeculotomies, but in Japan, open-angle glaucoma among adults is treated with trabeculotomy. Also because some approaches are different, the residents saw some complications they had not seen in the US (for example, corneal decompensation post laser surgery due to the argon laser).

The approach to training residents differed in some interesting ways as well. Notably, when using teaching scopes to examine dry eyes in patients, the doctors were able to show patients and residents videos of what happens in the eye that causes dry eye. Because the scopes were connected to video equipment, the physicians could rewind the tape and show patients what happens in their own eyes.

The residents also reported having greatly enjoyed the sightseeing, the hospitality both by the Japanese in general, but particularly by the faculty, residents, and staff at Keio University.

One of the most important things to come out of their trip, they noted, was the relationship formed with the Keio University, and the relationships with the doctors and residents.

Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo Brazil

Our first year residents have the opportunity to travel to UNIFESP in Sao Paulo, Brazil for two weeks.  During this time, they are exposed to clinical practices and academic opportunities they would not otherwise experience in Chicago.  Along with the knowledge gained from this experience, they also enjoyed the local customs and hospitality offered by the friendly faculty and staff at UNIFESP.

In the spring of 2012, three UNIFESP residents came to UIC for a unique learning opportunity.  They attended the week long Illinois Eye Review Course, getting exposure to an intense learning opportunity.  They were able to attend morning lecture and Grand Rounds, tour the city of Chicago, and partake in St. Patrick's Day activities around the city.  Before leaving town, Thays Moreira Albhy, Carlos Eduardo Barbosa Filho, and Paula de Campos Prudente Silva attended a Chicago Bulls game to watch Derrick Rose and the Bulls battle the Portland Trailblazers as well as visiting Gino's East for some deep dish pizza.

This program was new to UIC and UNIFESP this year and was a huge success.  The residents involved were grateful to be a part of this exciting opportunity.  We are hoping to continue this exchange with our friends at the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo.