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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

It is strongly recommended that you take the ophthalmology elective near the beginning of your senior year as ophthalmology has an early match. The ophthalmology clinical electives are offered through the elective lottery. If there is high interest and you cannot secure a position please contact Rachel Kammer to discuss. 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 VLSO (aka 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: Robert Fechtner, 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 and conferences, daily clinics, inpatient and outpatient consults, and limited OR experience.

Elective Description:

In this course, the student is given an understanding of the eye, its function, its abnormalities and diseases, and its relation to the body as a whole. Students are taught history taking skills and examination techniques. They are taught to intelligently approach a patient with eye problems, ask the proper questions to obtain a valuable history, and examine a patient to accurately identify pathology if it exists. 

The main focus of the elective is to be able to recognize the more serious problems that threaten vision and require treatment, and to have a basic understanding of therapy, thus most of the elective time is spent in the eye clinic examining patients. As students develop a working knowledge of the slit lamp and indirect ophthalmoscope they will become familiar with eye changes in both local and systemic disease. Students will also attend surgery and learn about surgical techniques as part of the curriculum. Students will round with the inpatient residents and attendings on patients admitted to the hospital. If interested, students have the opportunity to see consults with the residents to get exposure to the management of acute ophthalmic issues. Students can then present patients at Monday morning conference to practice presentation skills and demonstrate their understanding of ophthalmic pathology. They are also encouraged to participate in case presentations and literature reviews, attend morning lectures, conferences, grand rounds, journal clubs, and special programs on the Departmental schedule. 

Ample resources are available in the Departmental library to provide a background for clinical exposure and patient care. A 30-minute presentation by students taking the elective for at least 4 credits is part of the Course curriculum.  No attempt is made to teach students to refract in the short time allowed.


Practical Ophthalmology: A Manual for Beginning Residents -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.