Leo P. Semes, O.D. FAAO
Director, Externship Program
Ms. Cynthia Perry
History of the Program
The Externship Program at the UAB School of Optometry was begun in 1989 by Dr.
John Amos, Director of Residencies, Dr. Lester Caplan, Assistant Dean for
Clinical Services, and Dr. James Beisel, who was the first Director of the
program. Impetus for the development of externships was provided by a concern
that students be afforded the best possible opportunity to participate in the
clinical treatment of eye disease. Although most states permitted optometrists
to treat ocular diseases with therapeutic pharmaceutical agents (TPAs) at the
time, Alabama did not have such a law (it was not passed until 1995). For UAB
students to gain formally documented TPA experience, patient encounters were
necessary in off-campus clinics and practices at which TPAs were prescribed.
Concurrently, the 1988-89 academic year marked the first year of a dramatic
modification in the professional curriculum.
During the last year of the professional curriculum, students may spend
two terms in private or group practice offices of optometrists or
ophthalmologists, in co-management referral centers, in hospitals (e.g., VA,
Indian Health, Military), rural health centers or other settings conducive to
hands-on training. The purpose of the Externship Program is to provide UAB
students with direct clinical experience in the diagnosis, treatment and
management of ocular disease, as well as the pre-operative and post-operative
care of patients. Also, depending on the site, experience may be gained in the
specialty areas of optometry (e.g., contact lenses, low vision, pediatric and
binocular vision, sports vision), and in the co-management of patients.
© 2011, Externship Program, UAB School of Optometry. All rights reserved.