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 Externship Program
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Program Overview

The purpose of the Externship Program at UABSO is to provide our students with a broad-based hands-on clinical experience. Externships are designed to enhance the student’s preparation for professional success. During their externship rotations students should gain increased experience in optometric patient care and the diagnosis, treatment and management of ocular disease under the guidance of a practicing professional. In addition to required university-based experiences, students select other externship sites in institutional, hospital-based or multidisciplinary clinics and private practice locations.

The externship year is divided into three terms: Summer, Fall and Spring. The terms may be further divided into Summer 1, Summer 2, Fall 1, Fall 2, Spring 1, and Spring 2. Students have externship site requirements that must be met during their externship year. Each student must spend at least one 16 week term at the UABSO clinic. To ensure that all students receive a complete clinical experience, it is required that one of the rotations be hospital-based, institutional or in a multidisciplinary-type environment. A third rotation must be spent in a private practice environment.

There are currently three Hospital-based sites that must be staffed by UABSO externs every term. These sites are: the Birmingham Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, which requires four externs per term, the Tuscaloosa Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, which requires three externs per term, and the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (Montgomery, AL), which requires one extern per term. One additional student per site (three per term) will be designated as alternates for these sites each term, but will staff the sites only if an assigned extern is unable or ineligible to participate.

All other sites are optional, but they must fulfill the site requirements outlined above. The students select sites taken from a roster of approved sites. These sites are in every southeastern state as well as other states across the nation and include multidisciplinary health centers, co-management referral centers, military hospitals, Indian Health Service facilities, and solo, partnership and group optometry and ophthalmology practices. Optional sites are assigned to students after the required sites and alternates are determined. Externship assignments are based on preceptor availability, GPA, and student preference.


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