UAMS Jones Eye Institute Opens Walker Eye Surgical Simulation & Education Center

A portion of the ninth floor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute has been transformed into an instructive, collaborative center where ophthalmology residents and UAMS students can learn surgical techniques and procedures outside the confines of an operating room, thanks to a $600,000 donation from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation.

UAMS faculty, staff, and supporters celebrated the opening of the Walker Eye Surgical Simulation & Education Center with a dedication ceremony, complete with tours of the simulation center, classrooms, and clinical space that comprises the renovated floor. Johnny Mike Walker, Walker Foundation trustee and son of Willard and Pat Walker, and Mandy Macke, foundation associate director, were in attendance.

The Walker Center features simulation machines, microscopes, and other equipment to help the next generation of ophthalmologists hone their skills. Under new curriculum requirements, ophthalmology resident physicians will have to show proficiency in certain surgical techniques and procedures, including suturing, cataract surgery, and glaucoma surgery. The center will also be open to medical students and ophthalmic medical technology students.

“The completion of the ninth floor is the capstone of the Jones Eye Institute,” said Christopher T. Westfall, MD, Jones Eye Institute director, interim UAMS College of Medicine dean and director of its Department of Ophthalmology. “It’s fitting this was accomplished through the continued generosity of the Walker family.”

The ninth-floor revamp moves all simulation-related tools and equipment that were once scattered across multiple floors in the institute to a centralized, modern space where residents can review surgeries on television screens and practice procedures.

“We are thankful for the many contributions the Walker family has made to UAMS through the years,” said interim UAMS Chancellor Stephanie Gardner, PharmD EdD. “UAMS would not be what it is today without the Walkers.”

John P. Shock, MD, Jones Eye Institute founding director, lauded the Walker family’s charitable giving and commended Johnny Mike Walker and Mandy Macke for carrying on the Walker Foundation’s philanthropic spirit.

The center will be led by Ahmed Sallam, MD, PhD, JEI ophthalmologist and assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology.

“There’s real evidence this will improve our residents’ competency levels, so the benefit of this simulation center is two-fold,” said Sallam. “It increases the comfort level and proficiency of our residents, which in turn, improves patient safety and satisfaction.”