As an academic department of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, the Department of Ophthalmology offers coursework in programs leading to the university's Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree as well as the Doctor of Medicine (MD)/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) combined degree. All second-year medical students participate in Student Day during which they learn the basics of the eye examination as part of the Principles of Clinical Medicine Course. Senior medical students attend a required course covering the basic information a general physician should possess about the eye examination, common eye diseases, and eye manifestations of systemic diseases. The department also offers elective courses for medical students who are interested in ophthalmology as a career and wish to broaden their understanding of ophthalmology.
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology William R. Morris, MD, serves as HEI's director of medical student education. In addition to overseeing the required and elective ophthalmology rotations, he also is faculty advisor for the Student Interest Group in Ophthalmology (SIGIO), which:
- educates medical students about the specialty of Ophthalmology as a career choice,
- increases their knowledge of diseases of the eyes and their adnexae, examination techniques, and the eyes' relationship to systemic diseases, and
- offers opportunities for medical students to become involved in community service, research, or other scholarly activities at HEI.
Summer internships are also available to students of different education levels — high school and college students as well as students from medical schools other than UT — which provide greater exposure to the discipline of ophthalmology. Students at all of these education levels have the opportunity to observe faculty members as they perform surgeries or clinics. Also, Dr. Barrett G. Haik has served as a mentor for medical students in a program directed by Suzanne Gronemeyer that was funded by the National Institutes of Health (POE grant). A number of students perform laboratory rotations under the guidance of our research faculty through the NIH Medical Research Student Fellowship Program.