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Law receives award for ophthalmology education excellence

Sep. 9, 2021, 8:55 AM

Janice Law, MD

by Nancy Humphrey

Janice Law, MD, assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will receive the Award for Excellence in Medical Student Education from the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO)/American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

The award, which acknowledges Law’s “dedication to the principles and significance of medical student education,” is one of the two major teaching awards offered in the field of ophthalmology. The other, the AUPO/AAO Straatsma Award, is awarded for excellence in resident education.

Law will receive the award at the January 2022 AUPO annual meeting where she will deliver a keynote presentation.

Law has been the director of medical student education for the Vanderbilt Eye Institute (VEI) for the past five years.

After receiving her medical degree from Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio, she completed her residency at Wayne State University/Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit, then a fellowship in vitreoretinal diseases and surgery at Vanderbilt.

At VEI, Law has worked to keep Ophthalmology relevant in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) curriculum. The time devoted to the specialty in medical school curricula throughout the country has diminished over the past decade, and students graduate with less experience and exposure to ophthalmology every year, she said.

To fill the knowledge gap, she has taught direct ophthalmoscopy skills to medical students, expanded enrollment in six electives and co-developed the “Eye Know” quarterly evening series for medical students. Law has also worked with Eli Zimmerman, MD, assistant professor of Neurology, to integrate ophthalmology into the neurology clerkship at VUMC.

On a national level, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she increased opportunities and mentorship for students by creating the Virtual Ophthalmology Mentoring Program, which paired 100 medical students across the country with practicing ophthalmologists.

And last year, she worked with the AAO to create a membership category for medical students allowing them free membership and access to the organization’s resources.

“It’s an enormous honor to win this award. My commitment is to helping medical students achieve their greatest potential through mentorship, improve equity for students and increase ophthalmic knowledge at the undergraduate medical education level,” she said.

“Janice is the consummate teacher, mentor and adviser, sincerely dedicated to the medical student education training process,” said Paul Sternberg, MD, G.W. Hale Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and chair of the department.

“She is unique in being an innovator in the advancement of medical student education in ophthalmology beyond Vanderbilt at the regional and national level.”

Law was also recognized by VUMC in 2020 for her accomplishments with the Geoffrey David Chazen Faculty Award for Innovation in Medical Education. The award was given for her contributions to the educational programs of VUSM and her extensive involvement in graduate and medical education.

Law is the second faculty member from VUMC’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences to win a coveted AUPO/AAO teaching award, Sternberg noted. Former faculty member Laura Wayman, MD, received the Straatsma Award for Excellence in Resident Education in 2014.

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