For a number of years the EyeCare Project has had an informal volunteer program for medical students and residents who are pursuing a career in ophthalmology. The Project developed programs for them for two to eight weeks. They worked with Armenian physicians and shadowed one or two while in Armenia.
The medical students and residents who participated in the EyeCare Project’s Observership programs returned home enormously enriched with knowledge, skills, emotions and impressions — they wanted to be ophthalmologists more than ever following their experience in Armenia with the Project.
As the program became more popular the EyeCare Project to implement a more structured Observership Program and began accepting applications for a two-week course for pre- and post–graduate medical students from the U.S. and other countries. To date more than 30 students have participated in the four-week Observership Program.
Prior to arriving in Armenia for their Observership, students are encouraged to visit the EyeCare Project’s online training platform and to take the self-assessment tests as well as to familiarize themselves with the EyeCare Project’s activities and programs and learn more about Armenia.
During their Observership there are a number of learning opportunities for the students. In the mornings students participate in classes specifically designed for them along with wet lab experience. In the afternoons and on the weekends they have practical experience shadowing the leading specialists working in clinics, operating rooms, the Mobile Eye Hospital. They also visit orphanages and community centers to screen patients and learn how to perform refractions — examinations for eyeglasses.
Observers shadow doctors at the Subspecialty Clinics located in the Malayan Ophthalmologic Center and the Kanaker Zeitun Medical Center — including Cornea, Pediatrics, Glaucoma, Vitreo retina, Neuro ophthalmology and plastic surgery and Low vision. Observers also visit the Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness and neonatal intensive care units of leading medical centers in Yerevan to observe and participate in Retinopathy of Prematurity screenings performed by EyeCare Project physicians.
Evenings and weekends are filled with lots of entertainment and cultural opportunities including tours of Armenia’s beautiful landmarks and monasteries, evening concerts with music and Armenian dancing and meals at some of Armenia’s finest restaurants, known for its unique cuisine.