What's a Fellowship?

What's a Fellowship?

Joel Hunter, MD
Joel Hunter, MD
Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 05/08/17 11:12 AM

Realizing how convoluted the process of medical education is, I thought it might be a good idea to go through and talk about the steps that are involved in becoming a refractive surgeon. If it becomes clear that this was not a good idea, but actually only a boring one, then I’m going to move on to a blog about something people might be more interested in, like the movie Inception (which I still haven’t seen, but I won’t let that get in the way of a review of it).

A fellowship is the last step in training. It isn’t necessary, but if you are going to sub-specialize in just one area of medicine, it is the best thing to do. The progression is four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of internship, three years of eye surgery residency, and then one year of fellowship in refractive surgery. Doing a fellowship is also a good way to hear the song, “For he’s a jolly good fellow” several times a week for an entire year.

My year in Kansas with Dan Durrie M.D. was a surreal experience. All the people that I had previously known only as refractive surgery celebrities were now people with whom I was emailing, talking on the phone, and going to dinner. I think you’ll understand what I mean when I tell you how dreamlike it is to eat dinner with corneal topography color map inventor Steve Klyce. No? Well, then you’ll just have to trust me that he is the Sylvester Stallone of the refractive surgery world.

All in all, the best way to think of a fellowship is that it is ten years of experience rolled into one year. The surgeries I performed, and the new technologies I got to help research, are all things I’d have seen if I’d started a practice after residency, but it would have been a decade later. Getting to spend a year with the superstars in my field changed my view of the field in a very short time. It helped me become a better thinker, and a better surgeon, than I possibly could have been in several years on my own. Soon Hunter Vision will have a fellowship of its own. And if I am very lucky, it will be because I am thought of as the George Clooney of the refractive surgery world.

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