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Clinical Rotations

One of the greatest strengths of the residency training program at UCSF is that our residents rotate each year through four diverse sites within San Francisco. As the region’s premier academic referral center, UCSF Medical Center at Parnassus and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay treat a plethora of complicated cases and rare diseases in adults and children. In addition, time at the Francis I. Proctor Foundation is integrated into the rotations to gain greater training in infectious and inflammatory diseases of the eye.

The Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFG) is a county hospital and the only Level I Trauma Center of San Francisco. The patient population here includes recent immigrants and patients who could otherwise not afford care. This hospital provides an amazing opportunity to manage end stage disease, trauma, and infectious diseases of the eye. In addition, residents have an opportunity to achieve high surgical volumes in both cataract and subspecialty cases.

Finally, the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (SF VAMC) is the veterans referral center for all of Northern California. Here, the residents have the opportunity to experience a busy clinical and surgical practice in comprehensive ophthalmology in addition to more complex sub-specialty care.

As our residents return each year to each of these different sites, they gain a graded clinical and surgical experience each year, allowing for a very thorough training program that leaves residents feeling confident and independent when they graduate.


Our residency program has partnered with the UCSF Department of Surgery to offer a joint internship tailored to the needs of our residents. Over the past 5 years, the internship has been improved based on feedback from our trainees. Currently, the internship consists of the following rotations:
• 6 months General Surgery (ENT, OMFS, Plastics, Neurosurgery, Trauma, Cardiac)
• Dermatology (4 weeks)
• Neuroradiology (4 weeks)
• 12 weeks Ophthalmology
• 4 weeks of elective (done with research mentor)

Our interns participate in ophthalmology didactic sessions during their non-surgery rotations, and also have a dedicated wetlab curriculum

First Year

After the Summer Session, the remainder of the year is divided into five 7-8 week rotations. First year residents perform anterior segment ophthalmic laser procedures (peripheral iridotomies, capsulotomies, SLT) in their clinical rotations, become proficient in oculoplastic and reconstructive surgery, and have the opportunity to perform extra-capsular cataract extractions at ZSFG and the SF VAMC.

  • Summer Session (5 weeks)
  • Zuckerburg San Francisco General Hospital (7-8 weeks)
  • San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (7-8 weeks)
  • UC Parnassus Comprehensive Ophthalmology and Neuro-ophthalmology (7-8 weeks)
  • UC Parnassus Subspecialty (7-8 weeks)
  • UC Parnassus Oculoplastic Surgery (7-8 weeks)


Second Year

The second year of residency is divided into five 10-11 week rotations.  Second year residents perform posterior segment ophthalmic laser procedures (PRP, retinopexy) and intravitreal injections in their clinical rotations, become proficient in pediatric and adult strabismus surgery, begin learning the basics of cornea surgeries and vitrectomy, and start performing phacoemulsification.

In addition, second year residents are given a 5-week block dedicated solely to research.  This research experience may include international travel if desired.

  • Zuckerburg San Francisco General Hospital (10-11 weeks)
  • San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (10-11  weeks)
  • UC Parnassus Cornea (5 weeks)
  • Research Block (5 weeks)
  • UC Parnassus Retina (10-11 weeks)
  • UC Mission Bay Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (10-11 weeks)


Third Year

During their third year, each resident serves as the chief resident in each service through which they rotate. Third year residents continue to practice clinic-based procedures and lasers, become proficient in glaucoma and cornea surgeries, learn laser refractive surgery, and gain expertise in phacoemulsification and complex cataract surgery.

  • Zuckerburg San Francisco General Hospital (10-11 weeks)
  • San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (10-11 weeks)
  • UC Parnassus Cornea and Refractive Surgery (10-11 weeks)
  • UC Parnassus Glaucoma and Ocular Oncology (10-11 weeks)
  • UC Parnassus Comprehensive Ophthalmology (10-11 weeks)



First year residents cover consults and take primary call for UC and the SF VAMC sites with third year residents serving as back up. Second years residents cover consults for the pediatric ophthalmology services and share back up call along with the fellow for the retina service. Primary call at SFGH is split between all years.


“I chose UCSF because coming from Princeton, where the faculty really focused on undergraduate education, I valued UCSF’s strong emphasis on resident education; I never feel like the fellows detract from our experience. I also like the range of sites providing both attending teaching and resident autonomy, and how clinically strong the graduates are from this program. Finally, the integrated intern year was a great way to start my clinical training, research, and life in San Francisco a year early, and be part of an even larger learning community at UCSF.”

Jonathan Li, MDJonathan Li, MDResident, Class of 2020

  • Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFG)
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  • San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (SF VAMC)
  • UCSF Medical Center at Parnassus
  • UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay
  • Proctor Foundation
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  • New State-of-the-art UCSF Eye Center opening 2020