The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO) are proud to present this year’s Straatsma Award for Excellence in Resident Education to Susan M. Culican, MD, PhD. The award recognizes and celebrates Dr. Culican’s achievements as a residency program director in ophthalmology.
The 2019 Straatsma Award is presented to Dr. Culican for her commitment to resident education, dedication to the residency training process, innovation and advancement of residency education in ophthalmology regionally and nationally. Through her devotion to teaching, mentoring and advising residents, she has worked tirelessly to improve the overall quality of her residency training program as well as to assess individual trainees’ needs.
Over the years, Dr. Culican has built a strong infrastructure into the residency program including the establishment of an integrated internship program for the residents. This was accomplished with close coordination with the St. Louis VA Hospital and the Washington University internal medicine training program. Residents who match in their program participate in the ophthalmology preliminary year program that includes four months of ophthalmology experience in addition to the basic medicine fundamental curriculum. Washington University is only one of 13 programs that currently offer this opportunity for their trainees.
Dr. Culican’s research has focused on resident training assessment. Her research program has four main goals:
- Adopt or adapt published assessment tools in the real-world setting of a training program.
- Determine the validity of those tools to document resident ability over time in training.
- Apply those tools in multisite studies to collect cumulative aggregate data on resident learning trajectories.
- Use that data to inform evidence-based milestones of resident development for future trainees.
At the national level, her participation in the Milestones Working Group in 2010 began her foray into data-driven assessments in resident education. She has served on the San Francisco Ophthalmology Match Advisory Group, the AUPO Data Usage Committee, and the AUPO Program Directors Council. She has been active in an advisory capacity at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, first on the Clinical Learning Environment Review (CLER) Surgical Subprotocol Focus Group in 2015 and the Ophthalmology Milestones 2.0 work group since 2018.
Running the residency program at Washington University has been a passion for Dr. Culican. She treats the residents as family and is truly interested in their well-being and future. She is the ultimate trainee advocate, affectionately referred to by trainees as “Mother Bear.”