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Electives and Observerships

We accept undergraduate medical students for electives and obserships within our department.

For our clinical skills and CaRMS electives, we take up to two students per week for a maximum of two weeks per elective. Electives are approved on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For observerships, participants must contact one of our faculty directly to inquire about the possibility of joining us. 

The Department of Ophthalmology offers a unique ophthalmic elective experience to Queen's Medical Students who are seeking further exposure to Ophthalmology, however, will not be applying for a residency position.

These electives are designed for Queen's medical students who are interested in developing their ophthalmic skills, but plan to go on to do further training in another field. For example: Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, or Internal Medicine, among others.

Clinical Skills elective students are introduced to the Emergency Eye Clinic and other General Ophthalmology clinics where they have the opportunity to encounter a variety of ophthalmic situations. These elective students have the opportunity to see the patient by directly following the ophthalmologist, which allows students the opportunity to become proficient in ocular history taking and examination techniques.

 Please visit our educational resources page for some useful resources (link on the right).

The Department of Ophthalmology offers clerkship electives for prospective Ophthalmology CaRMS Candidates in the last two years of their medical training. These electives serve as a great opportunity for those interested in an ophthalmology residency to familiarize themselves with our department. These electives are only available for Canadian (CMG Stream) and U.S (IMG stream) Medical Students.

CaRMS Electives are intended to provide both Queen's students as well as medical students from other Canadian and U.S universities the opportunity to explore our various subspecialty and general clinics. Medical students experience what being a Queen's Ophthalmology resident is like while interacting with our faculty, support staff, and residents. 

 Please feel free to visit our educational resources page for some useful resources (link on the right).

You may also enjoy visiting our postgrad education pages to learn a little more about what our residency program has to offer.

The Department of Ophthalmology offers observerships to Queen's Undergraduate Medical student in their first two years of medical training. Observerships aim to provide the opportunity to explore ophthalmology through observing the day-to-day practice of an ophthalmologist (typically over a period of 1–5 days). Availability of these observerships might be limited.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can join us for an elective throughout the year, save  during the last two weeks of June, as well as the entire months of July and August. The Department does not accept any elective students during this period, as it makes for a less than optimal elective opportunity due to COS preparation, residents being away on courses, the orientation of our new residents, and faculty vacation. 

Observerships are accepted year-round, depending on your sponsor faculty availability. 


Queen's University students are accepted up to ten months in advance, while students from other Canadian universities are accepted up to seven months in advance. Applications must be submitted a minimum of four months in advance, to allow for necessary credentialing.

Observership students can apply at any time by contacting specific faculty about potential availability. 

Clinical Skills Elective, and Queen’s CaRMS Elective students should email Shauna Vinkle at the Ophthalmology Undergraduate Office to inquire about availability. Once this is confirmed, you will enter it into Medtech. 

CaRMS elective students from Canadian medical schools should contact with any inquires and fill out an application at

Students wishing to undertake an observership should contact the potential preceptor directly to setup the observership. 

We cannot accommodate requests to work with only specific preceptors. The goal of our elective opportunities is to give students a well-rounded experience working in all our sub-specialties with a variety of faculty members and residents. 

A well-rounded elective is also in the student's best interest should they choose to apply to Queen's Ophthalmology through CaRMS. All residents and faculty members are part of the file review and interview process. This means that the more individuals who have worked with you, the more people can attest to your abilities.

This being said, if there is a particular doctor or subspecialty of interest to you, please feel free to let us know. Although it may not be possible, we certainly try our best to accommodate specific interests while still providing a well-rounded experience.

The ophthalmology undergraduate office will reach out to you around one month prior to your elective. During this time, the Program Assistant will ask for you for the following:

  • a photo of yourself
  • your hometown
  • your program year
  • your university’s evaluation form — this will be filled out by Dr. Farmer on the last Thursday of your elective. Please note: If your evaluation is electronic, please put Dr. Jim Farmer as the preceptor at 


Dr. Farmer does an 'elective wrap-up' with you on the last Thursday of your elective. This includes filling out your evaluations, going through any feedback, and answering any questions you may have. We need your evaluation prior to the last Thursday of your elective in order to complete your evaluation. 

Observership students from Queen's University will be sent a confidentiality form to complete and return to the Program Assistant.
Observership students from other universities will be provided with a package that needs to be sent back to the Program Assistant no later than two weeks prior to their observership.


For elective students, you will be assigned to a variety of different clinics, including general ophthalmology, an assortment of subspecialties, the emergency eye clinic, and a half-day in the operating room. We feel that this variety is key to providing a well-rounded exposure to ophthalmology, and a valuable elective experience.

You will be provided with a personalized schedule upon your arrival. 

For observership students, your schedule will be determined by your preceptor. Generally, this will only involve attending your preceptor's clinics. 


For the duration of your elective, you will be provided with lenses (20D and 78D). Other equipment will be on-hand in the lanes, or whereever you are assigned. 

 Please leave your lenses in the ophthalmology resident office on MA1 at the conclusion of your last clinic.  

 For observerships, your sponsor-faculty will arrange for any equipment that you may need, where applicable.


Elective visitors are welcome to participate in our rounds and seminars. Observers are welcome to attend as well, depending on sponsor-faculty approval. 

You may find the current rounds schedule here

Generally, the following is the weekly learning itinerary:

  • Diagnostic rounds: Tuesday 4:30pm
  • Grand rounds: Wednesday 7:30am
  • Teaching seminar: Wednesday 8:30am
  • Professors' rounds: Fridays before or after clinic, depending on faculty preference. (typically 7:15am or 4:30pm) 

 Other activities may also occur during your visit, eg. Journal Club or special rounds. Again, please consult the schedule during your visit. 


If you are an elective student visiting from Queen's Medicine, please come directly Shauna Vinkle's office (HDH, Brock 2 corridor, room 227B) at 8:30am to complete necessary paperwork and for a tour of the department. 

If you are an elective student visiting from outside of Queen's Medicine, please report to the undergraduate medical education office (80 Barrie St) at 8:30am to register and complete your paperwork. You will then make your way to security at Kingston General Hospital to get your hospital privileges. Finally, you will make your way to our department which is housed within Hotel Dieu Hospital (a 10 minute walk, or short shuttle ride away). When you arrive please report directly to Shauna Vinkle's office. 


If you are an observer, please contact your preceptor to find out where they would like you to go. 

You will be provided with evaluation forms to hand out to any physician, resident, or staff with whom you work. We have colour-coded forms for faculty and residents (green), and for support staff (pink). Additional forms can be found in the Resident Lounge on MA1, as well as the nursing station on J6.

You are encouraged to remind physicians, residents, and staff to fill out these forms at the conclusion of each clinic you work, regardless of whether you have worked with them previously. 

These forms will be used as part of your wrap-up session with Dr. Farmer at the conclusion of your elective. They will also be an important part of your file, should you apply to our department in the future, so it is in your best interest to have as many of these evaluations completed as possible.

Observerships do not involve any formal evaluation.
Evaluation Cards


The undergraduate ophthalmology office is located in Hotel Dieu Hospital (166 Brock St), in the second-floor Brock 2 corridor, room 228. 

You can reach the office by phone at extension 2245 at Hotel Dieu Hospital. 

Unless otherwise notified, morning clinics begin at 8am and afternoon clinics begin at 1pm.

A lab coat is optional according to preference.

  • Manual for Examinations and Diagnosis – Mark W. Leitman
  • Will's Eye Manual: Office and Emergency Room Diagnosis and Treatment of Eye Disease - Adam T. Gerstenblith
  • Basic Ophthalmology Manual(AAO) - Richard Harper
  • Fundamentals and Principles of Ophthalmology (AAO)

 Please note these books are not required for your elective, but rather recommendations if you are interested in learning more about Ophthalmology. We provide elective students with a copy of the book titled “Manual for Examinations and Diagnosis”.