During the last year of the UAB professional curriculum, students 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.
To assure that all students receive a diversified clinical experience, it is recommended that one of the two rotations be hospital-based or in a multidisciplinary-type environment. The second term may be spent in a private practice environment (optometry, ophthalmology, or mixed), which allows students to gain administrative experience along with clinical observation and patient care. Practice management experience (i.e., coding of diagnoses and procedures, learning about practice administration, understanding the legal influences on practice) is considered to be a secondary goal of the Externship Program, and students are expected to add to their knowledge by observing and contributing to the operation of private or co-management practices as permitted by preceptors.
In selecting externship sites, students are encouraged to consider personal benefits that may accrue, in addition to the program objectives, particularly if sites may offer career opportunities following graduation from UAB.
UAB School of Optometry