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Clinical Electives

Medical Students: For advice on pursuing an ophthalmology career, contact Rachel Kammer for an appointment to meet with an Ophthalmology Faculty Advisor.

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

eye surgery

The ophthalmology clinical elective is offered through the lottery. It is strongly recommended that you take the ophthalmology elective near the beginning of your senior 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 September.


Electives are offered to students from other institutions through VSAS®. This offering; however, takes place after SUNY UMU medical students select their ophthalmology clinical electives through a lottery system; results are posted in early March.

*Students from foreign medical schools should contact the Office of the Registrar for information Registrar@upstate.edu.

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 
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 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 many 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 15-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.