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This article was published 24/2/2012 (3333 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For Dr. Andre Jastrzebski, there's no place like home.
After spending a year studying in Ottawa, Jastrzebski is back in Winnipeg, training to become an ophthalmologist -- an option he didn't have until this year.
That's because the University of Manitoba is now offering a residency program for ophthalmologists.
The new residency program allows medical-school graduates who want to become ophthalmologists to complete their mandatory residency in Manitoba for the first time in almost 30 years.
"I really just want to say how honoured I am to have been chosen for this program," Jastrzebski, who began the five-year program in July, said Friday from the Misericordia Health Centre. "To train in this field is something I've wanted to do for a number of years now."
Med-school graduates who wish to specialize in fields such as ophthalmology have to complete a residency program to be eligible for certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the governing body for medical professionals in Canada.
The U of M's previous ophthalmological residency program ended in 1982. The new program is based out of the Misericordia 's eye-care centre.
Dr. Lorne Bellan, head of the university's ophthalmology department, said as the number of senior citizens increases, the need for eye doctors capable of performing surgery will also increase.
In 1991, there was the equivalent of one full-time ophthalmologist for every 2,972 people in Canada over the age of 65, said Bellan, citing research he did with a statistician from the Canadian Medical Association. Twenty years later, the ratio was one for every 4,301 seniors.
In 2030, it could be one for every 7,190 seniors, he said.
"The number of trainees hasn't kept up with the population increase," he said.
Residents are more likely to stay in Manitoba if they train here, said Dr. Brian Postl, the university's dean of medicine.
"We know that if our medical students graduate from our medical school, about half of them stay in the province," Postl said. "If they do a residency in the province after doing their medical school here, three-quarters of them stay."
Eighteen prospective residents were interviewed for entry into the program's second cohort. The university will admit one first-year resident to the program each year, with a total capacity of five students.
Jastrzebski said one of the perks of being the program's first student is an increased involvement in the program's development.
"We've discussed how (my) clinics are going to work and how I'll gradually get into the operating room to get surgical experience," Jastrzebski said. "Some of it's still up in the air, but I get to have input in every stage of that, which is really nice."
He isn't sure what the future holds finishes his residency, but he wants to stay in Winnipeg.