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Residency in Ocular Disease with emphasis in Primary Care Optometry and Retina

Basic Information

Category Title: Ocular Disease
Program Area of Emphasis: Primary Care Optometry, Retina
Program Site: Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Program Location: VA
Program Address: Tuscaloosa VAMC
3701 Loop Road East
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35404
Phone Number: 205-554-2847
Fax Number: 205-554-4628
Affiliation: University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry
Director of Residency Education:

Caroline B. Pate, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Program Application Deadline: February 15
Program URL:

Program Description

Date Program Established: 1979
Accreditation Status: Accredited

Click here for more information about accreditation of optometric residency programs.

Combined Residency/Graduate Program: No
Program Mission Statement:

MISSION The mission of the Residency in Ocular Disease with emphasis in Primary Care Optometry and Retina at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center is to provide a unique post-doctoral experience in a multidisciplinary setting with the intent of nurturing the residents' development into exceptional optometric clinicians by broadening general skills, and mastering additional specialized skills through independent patient care while adhering to supervision guidelines.

Program Description:

This residency program is designed to provide advanced clinical training in the diagnosis and management of ocular disease, exposure to multidisciplinary management of systemic disease, and primary eye care. The program primarily involves direct patient care by the resident, but supervision of student externs is also incorporated in the program. The Residents in Ocular Disease attend a regularly scheduled weekly Residency Conference which includes presentations by faculty and guests, grand rounds, case conferences, journal club, records review, and other learning activities. In order to better develop the residents' scholarship, a paper suitable for publication is required. Residency in Ocular Disease Curriculum: The educational objectives, learning activities, and expected outcomes of the Residency in Ocular Disease include the following: Clinical Activities: 1. Residents will manage at least 1000 patient care encounters. 2. The residents will be the primary provider, within residency supervision guidelines, for patients exhibiting a variety of ocular diseases such as: diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, acute red eyes, vein occlusions, age-related macular degeneration, inflammatory eye disease and others. 3. Residents will interact with disciplines outside the medical center through external rotations. 4. Residents will consult with regional VA and non-VA ophthalmic sub-specialties. 5. Residents will interact with medical disciplines inside the facility by completing internal consult requests. 6. Residents will manage patients requiring specialized testing and perform tests on these patients in sufficient numbers and at a level of expertise that is acceptable to the clinical staff. Scholarly Activities: 1. Residents must prepare a manuscript of publishable quality. 2. Residents must research, prepare, and give presentations at specific times during the residency year. 3. Residents will select and present articles in journal club. Didactic Activities: 1. Residents will attend the weekly Residency Conference at the affiliate (UABSO), which will cover core topics of broad interest and specialty topics in primary care optometry.

Program Length: 1 year
Number of Positions Available in Program: 2
Program Starting Date: first week of July
Typical Weekly Hours and After-Hours Responsibilities:

Normal Medical Center clinic hours are from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. The Optometry clinic begins seeing patients at 7:00 am. Residents begin at 7:30 am and end at 4:00 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Even though the tour of duty officially ends at 4:00 pm, the residents are expected to stay until all patients for the day are seen and notes for the day are completed. There is no on call duty. Each Wednesday morning, residents meet for the didactic component of the program at the affiliate (UABSO). Conference begins at 8:00 am and concludes around 12:00 pm. Wednesday afternoon is reserved for research and rotations through external sites such as a private practice retinal surgeon and a regional optometry/ophthalmology referral center.

Requirements for Completion:

Criteria for residency completion are as follows: * The resident is required to deliver clinical services at a level which is satisfactory to the clinic staff. * The resident is required to write a paper based on original research, literature review, or a clinical case suitable for publication in a refereed ophthalmic journal. * The resident is expected to perform in a professional manner in the delivery of patient care services and to observe those proprieties of conduct and courtesies that are consistent with the rules and regulations governing the clinic. * The resident is required to participate in and complete the requirements set forth in the curriculum. When a resident successfully completes the training program, the Director of Residency Programs recommends to the Dean the granting of a certificate.

Program Salary/Stipend: $35,063
Program Benefits and Liability Coverage: Health Coverage


Paid Sick Leave

Other: According to federal policy, residents may participate in a Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) plan of their choosing, as well as Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Programs (FEGLI). Human Resources will review these benefits with each resident during the TVAMC New Employee Orientation at the beginning of the residency year.
Completion Certificate: Yes
VA Hospital Affiliation: Yes

Key Contacts

Program Coordinator, Coordinator Title: Lisa Schifanella, O.D., M.S.
Telephone: 205-554-2847
E-mail Address:
Program Co-Coordinator, Co-Coordinator Title:
E-mail Address:

Application Information

Application Materials and Procedures:

Lisa Schifanella, O.D., M.S. Tuscaloosa VAMC 3701 Loop Road Tuscaloosa, AL 35404 205-554-2847

Selection Procedure and Admission Criteria:

Admission Eligibility Criteria 1. Applicants must have earned a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree, or will have earned such a degree by the time of matriculation, from an Accreditation Council on Optometric Education accredited school or college of optometry. 2. Applicant should have a minimum cumulative grade point average in the optometry professional curriculum of 3.0, on a 4.0 scale. 3. Applicants must have successfully completed parts I, II, and III of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO). 4. An interview by the TVAMC optometry staff with concurrence by the UABSO residency committee may be necessary. 5. By congressional law, candidates must be citizens of the United States. 6. The Tuscaloosa VAMC affirms that all residency applicants will be evaluated without regard to sex, race, color, creed, national origin, or non-disqualifying physical disabilities. * Selection procedure: Interested candidates for the residency positions, including official ORMatch applicants, are directed to the residency web pages and invited to download the TVAMC Residency Program in Ocular Disease Handbook (or are sent a hard copy if needed). Applicants may contact the Residency Director or the Residency Supervisor from the ORMatch website to obtain more information about the program. Dr. Schifanella usually corresponds with interested potential candidates via email and/or phone prior to and during the ORMatch application process. The application process officially begins with the resident registering with ORMatch. The resident applicant registers with ORMatch by submitting agreement to compliance with ORMatch Rules, an Applicant Agreement, OE Tracker Number, and a registration fee. Once registered, the resident applicant will submit the following documents to ORMatch:  1) a page of applicant contact, educational, and NBEO information  2) letter of intent  3) curriculum vitae  4) unofficial optometry school transcript  5) identification of 3 references who will submit letters of recommendation.  In addition to the documents required by ORMatch, the program requires a copy of the NBEO score report (photograph or screen shot is acceptable).  The applicant should upload a copy of the NBEO score report as supplemental information on the ORMatch application to the program.  Official transcripts are required for all applicants and should be sent directly to Dr. Schifanella.  Finally, the resident applicant should submit his or her ranking of residency program preferences to ORMatch by the ORMatch deadline.  Whenever possible for the applicants, the program coordinator and the staff optometrist interview qualified applicants. On-site interviews are strongly encouraged, as it gives applicants the opportunity to see the facility, meet the staff and coordinator, and become familiar with the clinic environment. Although each Ocular Disease resident candidate is strongly encouraged to visit TVAMC, a personal interview is not mandatory. Telephone interviews may be arranged if a visit cannot be scheduled. Dr. Schifanella is responsible for inviting resident candidates for interviews and for arranging the interview schedule for each candidate. The interview typically consists of the visiting candidate meeting with Dr. Schifanella, Dr. Whitaker, Dr. Prewitt, and the current residents. The candidate's meeting with Dr. Schifanella includes a one-on-one interview, a review of the residency requirements, and a tour of the TVAMC Optometry Clinic. Following the interview, Dr. Schifanella requests input regarding the candidates from Dr. Whitaker, Dr. Prewitt and the current residents. She then ranks the candidates and shares this ranking with Dr. Whitaker and Dr. Prewitt. Based on these discussions, the ranking may be modified. The final ranking list is reviewed and approved by the Residency and Fellowship Programs Advisory Committee and the Dean prior to the match. Finally, Dr. Schifanella enters the official ranking into the ORMatch system. Official notification of matches is sent to all parties by ORMatch one week after the matching deadline date. Following the match, Dr. Schifanella contacts the candidates and letters of acceptance are sent to the incoming residents. Resident applicants who do not match will be informed of such by ORMatch. The names of residency programs which also did not match and the name of unmatched applicants will be available on the ORMatch website at the earliest possible date after the match. After official notification of non-matched status by ORMatch, interested parties can proceed with independent negotiation in filling residency programs.

United States citizenship is required to qualify for VHA appointment in a paid VA optometry resident position funded by the Office of Academic Affiliations. Reference: VA Handbook 5005/57, Part II, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.g.(1) & (5)(c), dated June 14, 2012.
Program Application Deadline: February 15

Additional Comments

Resident must obtain a license in at least one state.