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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 41

Evaluation of an ophthalmology virtual elective during the COVID-19 pandemic

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, USA
2 Northern California Cornea Associates, Inc., Walnut Creek, CA, 94958, USA

Correspondence Address:
Ana Alzaga Fernandez
Department of Ophthalmology, Weill Cornell Medicine, 1305 York Ave, New York 10021, NY
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/pajo.pajo_30_22

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Objectives: To evaluate if the Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) Ophthalmology Virtual Elective provided students with 1) an increased knowledge of ophthalmology, 2) an understanding of the residency program and department, and 3) an opportunity for the program faculty to become acquainted with the students. To determine how future virtual electives may be improved to increase efficacy of achieving these objectives. Methods: A 2-week virtual ophthalmology elective was offered to 4th-year medical students. The curriculum included dedicated medical student lectures and assignments and supplemental resources from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Students also participated in grand rounds, resident morning lectures, and delivered case presentations to the faculty. Pre- and postassessments were performed to evaluate medical knowledge, and a subjective experience survey was distributed to evaluate faculty and student experiences. Results: Seventeen, fourth-year medical students participated in the elective, and 12 students completed the voluntary pre- and postassessments of medical knowledge. Significant improvement in medical knowledge was noted. Median preassessment score was 80% (interquartile range [IQR]: 78%, 83%), and the median postassessment score was 100% (IQR: 90%, 100%), P = 0.0055. Sixteen students and four faculty members completed their respective subjective experiences in a Likert scale survey. Most students indicated they felt fairly confident or very confident that they had acquired knowledge, made relationships with faculty, and had become familiar with the program and departmental culture. All faculties indicated they agreed or strongly agreed that they were able to assess students' abilities and establish rapport with the students. Both students and faculty felt limited in the assessment of clinical skills due to a lack of in-person activities. Conclusions: Despite its inherent limitations, an ophthalmology virtual elective can effectively increase interest and knowledge within the field of ophthalmology, facilitate student–faculty relations, and serve as a tool for residency programs in the era of COVID-19 and thereafter.

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