They learned in our residency program, loved it, and stayed to help keep it strong . . . .

Maria Aaron, Geoff Broocker, Paul Pruett

Maria Aaron, Geoff Broocker, Paul Pruett

The few, the brave, the indispensable: our boomerangs

Maria Aaron. Paul Pruett. Blaine Cribbs. Jeremy Jones. In different years, they were carefully selected from hundreds of applicants to join that year’s residency class of only six new trainees.

Passing one career milepost after another—residency, fellowship, junior faculty—they experienced the Emory Eye Center’s consistently superlative training in action. They wanted to see that good training continued well into the future. In fact, they wanted to do that good training themselves. These are our boomerangs: well-crafted instruments, carefully shaped so they can be launched toward a specific mark. If cast in a particular way, they return.

In residency education, that “cast” is something of a mystery. Is it innate? kindled? transferred? 

Maria Aaron, Terri Trotter, Paul Pruett

Aaron, Terri Trotter, Pruett

Terri Trotter, 12-year coordinator of the residency program, rhetorically asks: “Why would somebody go into this? Training residents is a very hard job." Department chair Timothy Olsen, who was both a research and clinical vitreoretinal fellow here himself in the mid-90s, elaborates: “A residency director has to be a liaison between the program, the faculty, and the departmental mission; to advocate for the residents; and to help them transition from student to doctor. It’s a job that requires intense, constant attention. And, yes, it can be a thankless task.

The few

For those who trained here and—despite the job’s intensity—returned to teach residents, the “why” can be traced at least indirectly to Geoff Broocker. In 1988, when Thomas Aaberg, shortly after becoming the department chair, recruited Broocker to serve at Emory as one of the first full-time directors of a medical residency program, he cast the model for programs throughout the country today.

More directly, teaching with outrageous banter, relentless questioning, and demanding expectations, Broocker forged an indelible impression on the residents he trained, securing their future and winning their fervent respect—and giving our department’s reputation for superb residency training a big boost up the ladder. That reputation has been climbing ever since.



Return on investment

1988 Geoff Broocker becomes Emory's first full-time medical residency program director and chief of ophthalmology service at Grady.

2000 Broocker passes the director's torch to former resident Maria Aaron, the two of them working together to allow a smooth transition.

2011 Aaron, ready to step down after 11 years, chooses Paul Pruett – Emory MD, intern, resident, fellow, and faculty member – to be the new director. Again, the transition is seamless: Both Pruett and Blaine Cribbs, another Emory resident, fellow, and faculty member, already know the job well, having served since 2009 as associate program directors.

2013 Jeremy Jones, Emory MD, intern, resident, current fellow, and faculty member, becomes associate chief of service at Grady, working with both Pruett and Broocker.

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