Clinical Electives

If you are a SUNY Upstate Medical University Student...

women recieving an eye exam

You may choose your ophthalmology clinical elective for the following academic year through the lottery conducted toward the end of January. It is strongly recommended that you take the ophthalmology elective early in your MSIV year as ophthalmology has an early match.  All residency applications are processed by the San Francisco Match whose target date for receipt of applications is early to mid-September with the majority of program interviews occurring between October and December. If possible, it is preferable to have taken the Neuroscience Clerkship before the elective.

A rotation in Eye Pathology with Ann Barker-Griffith, MD is also recommended. Contact Dr. Barker-Griffith directly with your elective request.


Electives are offered to students from other institutions. This offering; however, takes place after SUNY UMU medical students select their ophthalmology clinical electives through a lottery system, and these lottery results are posted by early March. Please contact Edwina Charlton in the Department for vacancy information.

*Students from foreign medical schools should contact the Office of the Registrar for information

OPTH4001 Description

Instructor: Ann Barker-Griffith, MD
315 464-5253
550 Harrison Center, Suite L

Prerequisites: Prefer completion of surgical and medical rotations
Maximum Number of Students: 2
(Total combined number of students in 4001 and 4004 not to exceed 3)
Periods offered: 1-12

Weekly Activities: Lectures, seminars and conferences, daily Clinics, inpatient and outpatient consults, night call (emergency cases of note), and limited O.R. experience.

Elective Description: In this course, an attempt is made to give the student an understanding of the eye, its function, abnormalities and diseases, and its relation to the body as a whole. Students are taught history taking and techniques of examination. They are expected to intelligently approach a patient with eye problems, ask the proper questions to obtain a valuable history, and examine a patient to adequately understand pathology if it exists. No attempt is made to teach students to refract in the short time allowed; however, they should be able to do a reasonable visual field.

Although students attend surgery often and learn surgical techniques as part of the curriculum, most of the elective time is spent in the Eye Clinic working up patients as the student's ability develops. To be able to recognize the more serious problems that threaten vision and require treatment, and to have a basic understanding of therapy are main focuses of the elective. As students develop a working knowledge of the ophthalmoscope, they become familiar with all eye changes in systemic disease, including fundus changes in systemic diseases as well as local disease.

Students make rounds with the residents and attendings and take part in morning conferences. Students are encouraged to participate in case presentations and literature reviews, attending all Visiting Professor Days, lectures, seminars, Journal Clubs, Grand Rounds, and special programs on the Departmental schedule. A Departmental library provides a background for clinical exposure and patient care.

A 20-minute presentation by students taking the elective for at least 4 credits is part of the Course curriculum.

Reading: Textbooks: Basic Ophthalmology for Medical Students and Primary Care Residents; Practical Ophthalmology: A Manual for Beginning Residents - both published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Criteria for Evaluation of Performance: Patient work-ups, personal observation by the residents, the staff, and quality of student presentation.
Is Performance Discussed with Students: Yes, when deemed necessary.