Background There is a high level of interest in international experiences during United States (U.S.) ophthalmology residency training among both program directors and trainees. Methods An electronic invitation to a 26-question survey was sent to all 114 U.S. ophthalmology residency program directors. The invitation requested that the survey be completed by the one faculty member who was most involved in overseeing the international experiences for the residents. The survey consisted of multiple choice and Likert-type scale questions. The Mann-Whitney U test was used for analysis of demographic data and Friedman’s test and Wilcoxon-Signed Rank test were used to analyze ranked responses. Results Responses were obtained from 70 faculty mentors representing unique programs, yielding a response rate of 61.4%. The majority of programs that responded (88.6%, n = 62) either offered international ophthalmology experiences for residents or supported residents finding their own experiences to go abroad. International experience participation rate among residents correlated with the number of years the experiences had been offered by the programs (p = 0.001). More than half of the respondents (55.0%, n = 33) felt that the residents benefited more than the hosts during these international experiences. Approximately half of the respondents (51.6%, n = 32) believed that additional training beyond what is covered in the standard curriculum to practice ophthalmology in the U.S. is necessary for practicing ophthalmology in an international setting. Conclusions There is high interest and participation in international experiences within U.S. ophthalmology residency programs. This high participation warrants further investigation into the long-term impact of these international experiences and how U.S. residency programs can structure these experiences to maximize the benefits to both the residents and the international host communities.
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