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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Emily B. Graubart, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Emory University, 1365B Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, (404)778-5431, ebedric@emory.edu

Acknowledgements: The authors thank Pavlina Kemp, MD and other educators who have contributed to open-access ophthalmology medical student education platforms incorporated in this study.

Disclosures: None declared.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by an unrestricted departmental grant to the Emory Eye Center from Research to Prevent Blindness (New York, NY) and by National Eye Institute Core Grant P30 EY006360.


  • Ophthalmology
  • COVID-19
  • Medical students
  • Health education
  • Remote learning

Ophthalmology Education in COVID-19: A Remote Elective for Medical Students.


Journal Title:

Journal of Academic Ophthalmology


Volume 12, Number 2


, Pages e165-e170

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background: The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has created obstacles for medical student education, as clinical rotations were temporarily halted. Recent literature shows online electives may provide an alternative learning platform. We developed a tele-ophthalmology student elective for rising third-year (MS3) and fourth-year (MS4) medical students to continue teaching and exposure to the field. Methods: A 4-week remote elective was approved by Emory University School of Medicine and offered between April 18, 2020 to May 15, 2020 for rising MS3 and MS4 students. The curriculum consisted of online self-study materials, student presentations, chart review assignments, case-based discussions with faculty, and telehealth experiences. All students were surveyed and tested with questions from USMLE World (UWorld) test bank at the end of the course. Results: A total of 18 students enrolled, with 66.7% MS3 and 33.3% MS4 participance. The mean rating of fulfillment of course learning objectives was 8.1/10 (range, 6.7–8.8), with mean ratings of 8.2 for MS3s and 7.7 for MS4s. There was a significant increase in self-reported knowledge in ophthalmology, with an increase from 4.6 to 8.1 for MS3s (p=0.002) and 6.7 to 8.0 for MS4s (p=0.04). Students also reported higher interest in the field, with an increase from 4.9 to 7.8 for MS3s (p=0.01) and 7.5 to 8.7 for MS4s (p=0.1). The students performed significantly higher on the post-course test (94.8%) than UWorld question bank users (74.1%) (p<0.001). Conclusion: Our novel ophthalmology elective significantly enhanced self-reported medical student knowledge and interest in the field during a crisis that required transition to remote learning. Further study of student telehealth experience and objective assessment is needed to improve online learning in ophthalmology.

Copyright information:

© 2020. The Author(s).

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/rdf).
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