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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 evidence based practice. 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 rotations through externship sites around the country and abroad during the fourth year.

The first two years of the program concentrate on students integrating basic biological and visual sciences with clinical practice, while developing an understanding of the theory and fundamentals of ocular examination, patient communication, diagnosis, clinical care and treatment. Students begin working with patients in the UEC clinics in the first year and continue with greater patient care responsibilities in subsequent years. In the spring of the second tear, students are assigned patients to be examined under supervision of clinical faculty. Third year integrates didactic and clinical teaching further, and students provide patient care in primary care and various specialty services.

Fourth year students, working as interns with patient care responsibilities, are assigned to multiple rotations through various clinics in the UEC and in three externships at various hospitals, health care facilities, and private practices as part of our fourth year 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 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. The program builds on the knowledge base acquired prior to professional school through prerequisites and sets the foundation for the rest of the curriculum and into optometric clinical practice. During this year, students are introduced to the profession of optometry, optometric theory and the elements of clinical practice. 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

Spring Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor

Clinical Education

Clinical Education

Fall Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track

Spring Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track

Second Year

The knowledge acquired in the first year is extended in the second year. The Integrative Seminar in second year continues to integrate basic and clinical sciences and includes more direct clinical exposure. By the end of the second year, students will have performed comprehensive eye examinations on their first patients in the University Eye Center (UEC).

Year Two

Biological and Vision Sciences

Fall Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor

Spring Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor

Clinical Education

Clinical Education

Fall Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track

Spring Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track


Third Year

In the third year, students continue to take didactic courses in areas of ocular disease, contact lenses, binocular vision, pediatrics, public health and practice development. While course work continues, students are also providing patient care in the UEC in primary care and gaining exposure in several specialties including vision rehabilitation, contact lenses, pediatrics and advanced care. The emphasis of clinical education in the third year is comprehensive care, where students are assigned to small clinical teaching units in the Primary Care Service – called pods – made up of 6-8 students and two doctors. Each pod meets weekly for a full day clinic session in the primary care service that includes an Integrative Seminar meeting where patient care is discussed. In addition to didactic and clinical assignments, third year students are required to take two elective courses, which enable them to pursue more advanced knowledge in self-selected areas of interest. Electives are offered in the summer session and second half of the spring semester.

Year Three

Biological and Vision Sciences

Summer Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor

Fall Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor

Spring Semester
Systemic and Ocular Health
Refractive
Visual Perception/Sensorimotor

Clinical Education

Summer Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track

Fall Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track

Spring Semester
Clinical Examination
Clinic
Public Health
Integrative Track

Fourth Year

Students are assigned to four clinical rotations in 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 the fourth-year student to a diversity of ocular and general conditions in patients of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, and will provide greater exposure to interprofessional collaborative patient care.