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OD Curriculum

The professional program leading to the Doctor of Optometry (OD) at The SUNY College of Optometry is four years in duration. The curriculum integrates the basic biological and vision sciences that form the foundation of clinical practice, teaches the fundamentals of optometry and develops critical thinking for patient care and clinical decision making. Patient care begins early and continues throughout all four years of the program with increasing responsibilities under the supervision of our clinical faculty at the University Eye Center (UEC) as well as through a minimum of two quarters during the fourth year at externship sites nationally and internationally.

The first two years of the program concentrate on integrating basic biological and visual sciences with clinical practice, while developing and understanding the theory and fundamentals of ocular examination, treatment and therapy. Students begin working in the UEC clinics in the first year and continue with greater responsibilities in subsequent years. Direct patient care begins in the spring of the second year. The third year integrates didactic and clinical teaching further and students care for patients in primary care and in various specialty services.

Clinical education in the fourth year is delivered in four, 12 week quarters. In the fourth year, students work as interns with patient care responsibilities and are assigned to multiple rotations through various clinics in the UEC and at least two external sites at various hospitals, other health care facilities and private practices as part of our externship program. Opportunities for rotations through one of the College’s international clinical affiliates also exist. After the successful completion of the fourth year, the Doctor of Optometry (OD degree is awarded. Once state licensing exams are passed, the graduate is qualified to begin practicing.

After the successful completion of the fourth year, the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree is awarded. Once state licensing exams are passed, the graduate is qualified to begin practice.

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Curriculum Features: Tracks and Integration

The curriculum is delivered in two 16-week semesters per year for the first three years. Individual courses may be conducted for a full semester or within an eight-week module. An additional 10-week summer session takes place in year three. Year four consists of four quarters beginning in the summer after year three.

The curriculum features seven tracks that extend throughout the four years:

Department of Biological and Vision Sciences

  • Systemic and Ocular Health
  • Refractive Conditions
  • Visual Perception and Sensorimotor Control

Department of Clinical Education

  • Clinical Examination – Optometric Theory and Procedures
  • Public/Community Health
  • Optometric Clinic
  • Integrative Seminar

The Integrative Seminar Track is designed to help students integrate clinical knowledge and skills with the basic sciences that form the foundation of the profession. The Integrative Seminars provide small-group learning environments that use clinical case studies to improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In the third year, the Integrative Seminar is directly tied to the student’s patient care assignments and takes place in the clinic in clinical care units called “pods”, which are comprised of small groups of students and two clinical faculty supervisors.

Electives on a variety of areas and advanced topics are offered in the summer and spring for third year students.


First Year

The scientific foundation for optometric practice is established in the first year. During this year, students are introduced to the profession of optometry, optometric theory and the elements of clinical practice. The program builds from the knowledge base acquired prior to professional school through prerequisites and sets the foundation for advanced didactic and clinical activities during the rest of the curriculum and into optometric practice. Students provide elements of patient care in the UEC. Integrative Seminar helps students tie the basic and clinic sciences together.

Year One

Biological and Vision Sciences

Biological and Vision Sciences

Fall Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor
Human Bioscience I
Integrated Optics I
Gross Human Anatomy
Neuroanatomy
Ocular Anatomy, Biochemistry & Physiology I

Spring Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor
Human Bioscience II
Integrated Optics II
Visual Function: Sensory
Ocular Anatomy, Biochemistry & Physiology II

Clinical Education

Clinical Education

Fall Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track
Optometric Theory I
Optometric Practice
Integrative Seminar I
Clinical Optometry I

Spring Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track
Optometric Theory II
Optometric Practice
Integrative Seminar II
Clinical Optometry II

Second Year

The knowledge acquired in the first year sets the foundation for the second year. Basic knowledge acquired during the second year is intended to enhance the clinical skills of students. The Integrative Seminar in second year continues to integrate basic and clinical sciences and includes more direct clinical exposure. Students take on greater patient care responsibilities throughout the year, culminating with their taking on full responsibilities for their first patients by the end of the second year.

Year Two

Biological and Vision Sciences

Fall Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor
Human Bioscience III
Integrated Optics III
Visual Function: Sensorimotor I
Microbiology
Visual Function: Sensorimotor II
Pharmacology I

Spring Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor
Ocular Disease I
Contact Lenses I
Anomalies of Visual Sensorimotor Function I
(A) Clinical Medicine
Pharmacology II

Clinical Education

Clinical Education

Fall Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track
Clinical Optometry III
Integrative Seminar III

Spring Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track
Clinical Optometry IV
Optometric Practice
Integrative Seminar IV

 


Third Year

In the third year students continue to take didactic courses in areas of ocular disease, contact lenses, binocular vision, public health and optometric practice. In addition, students are required to take two elective courses in the third year. Electives on special and advanced topics are offered during the summer and spring of the third year. While course work continues, students are also providing patient care in the primary care service in the UEC. Students are assigned to small clinical teaching units – called pods –comprised of students and two doctors. Each pod meets weekly for a full day clinical session and includes an integrative seminar where patient care is discussed. Students are assigned to a single pod for 16 weeks, spending 8 weeks with each of the two faculty members during the semester.

Year Three

Biological and Vision Sciences

Summer Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor
Pediatric Optometry and Visual Development

Fall Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor
Ocular Disease II
Anomalies of Visual Sensorimotor Function II
Contact Lenses II

Spring Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor
Ocular Disease III

Clinical Education

Summer Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track
Optometric Clinic I
Epidemiology
Integrative Seminar V

Fall Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track
Optometric Clinic II
Integrative Seminar VI

Spring Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track
(A) Low Vision
Optometric Clinic III
(B) Optometric Practice (continued)
Integrative Seminar VII
Public Health

Fourth Year

Students request and are assigned to four clinical rotations during the fourth year. Rotations take place in a number of carefully selected internal and external sites in order to allow students to experience a greater variety of clinical environments. These environments expose fourth year students to a diversity of ocular and general conditions among patients of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Students must receive exposure in the core areas of refractive care, binocular vision, ocular disease/trauma and interprofessional practice. At least two rotations must be at external clinical affiliates.