The Department's training program has long been strong in providing a broad-based, high-volume, well-supervised educational experience for promising residents. Program graduates display competency in all areas of comprehensive ophthalmology thanks to the breadth of study and experience the program offers. Academic excellence is a high priority and is reflected in the Department's consistently high performance on the Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program and American Board of Ophthalmology examination. Board scores for Upstate Medical University ophthalmology residents overall are consistently above the 75th percentile, with many placing above the 90th percentile.
Graduates of the program who choose subspecialization typically obtain top fellowships across the country. All training takes place on one diverse campus that incorporates University Hospital, Crouse Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center. The residency program is three years long.
Residents are admitted to the program on the advice of the Residency Selection Committee. The committee encourages competitive candidates to spend a day in the Department, tour the campus, talk with current residents, and interview with the faculty. Grades, test scores, letters of recommendation, and personal interviews all play a role in shaping the committee's decisions.
The first year is heavy in practical experience. A two-month series of lectures provides a start-up course for new residents, who immediately learn methods of ocular examination (including refraction, diagnosis and therapy, and minor outpatient procedures). The residents quickly become involved in all aspects of patient care, assisting attending physicians in operating rooms and, along with second-year residents, covering weekend and night call on a rotating basis. Residents are brought into the surgical loop toward the end of their first year.
Although the program is rich in hands-on experience, faculty are available around the clock and residents are never forced to make patient management decisions that lie beyond their level of training and medical knowledge.
Residents spend part of their second year attending a Basic and Clinical Science Course. The remainder of the second year's curriculum is divided into two parts. Half way through, the two residents switch assignments to give each equal time in Part One and Part Two.
One second year resident is in charge of the Retina and Pediatric Ophthalmology clinics at University Eye Center. Here they perform most of the strabismus surgery, as well as enucleations, lid procedures and cataract surgery.
The other second year resident is in charge of the Glaucoma Clinic at University Eye Center, and serves in the clinics and operating rooms at Veterans Hospital and in the Eye Pathology Laboratory. During their pathology sessions, residents perform gross and microscopic examinations on surgical specimens, dictate gross descriptions, evaluate the microscopic slides on current surgicals, and study extensive eye pathology teaching sets.
Like the second year, the senior (or third) year is also divided into two equal segments. In January, the seniors rotate, allowing each to experience the two very different hospital environments.
One of the two senior residents takes charge of the outpatient and inpatient services at Veterans Administration Hospital. This assignment lasts six months. The resident is under the supervision of the Chief of Ophthalmology and the subspecialty chiefs.
The other senior resident assumes similar responsibilities at University Eye Center and Crouse Hospital.
Residents gain experience in the most sophisticated and complex surgical procedures during their third year of training. They typically perform at least 200 major surgeries, addressing such issues as major trauma, corneal lacerations, intraocular foreign bodies, and tumors. Residents operate under the guidance of an attending ophthalmic surgeon who provides hands-on assistance.
The majority of elective admissions take place at Crouse Hospital. The hospital handles about 5,000 major ophthalmic cases annually, not including laser and minor surgeries. Seventy-five percent of these procedures are performed in one of two outstanding outpatient surgery centers located on campus. These facilities contain multiple operating microscopes, all types of phacoemulsification and vitrectomy equipment, Argon, YAG, and Excimer lasers, and endophotocoagulation devices.
Research is a major component of the Department's mission. At the Barbara W. Streeten, MD - Eye Pathology Laboratory, under the leadership of Ann Barker-Griffith, MD, the residents may participate in her clinical research. In addition to pathology, major inroads have been made in the study of a leading cause of glaucomapseudoexfoliation disease. Studies from this laboratory have helped to elucidate the clinical, anatomical, and biochemical features of this and other important conditions.
Another area of emphasis is inherited retinal disorders. Department research scientists work at the leading edge of molecular biological research of hereditary retinal disease and related disorders.
The faculty working in these areas are expert in the clinical aspects of inherited retinal disease, as well as in biochemistry physiology, and cell and molecular biology. Much of the research conducted on campus is supported by grants from the National Eye Institute, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and other well known funding organizations.
Residents in the Department are encouraged to join faculty in engaging in research. The residency program has a history of generating superb publications and presentations. Topics have ranged from clinical cases to electron microscopic and biochemical projects.
Syracuse University shares the same campus as the SUNY Upstate Medical University and supports active basic science research of the visual system with ongoing projects in its departments of Psychology, Physiology, and Biophysics, and in Syracuse University's Institute for Sensory Research. Several investigators in these departments hold joint appointments in teaching and research in the Department of Ophthalmology. This combined Syracuse vision science group annually presents papers and posters at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and is recognized as a major force in the field.