The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center Optometry Residency Program in Hospital-Based Optometry
Affiliation: The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center (TVAMC) is located in West Alabama where it is situated on a beautiful 125 acre campus with 25 major buildings. TVAMC provides primary care, long-term health care and mental health care services to eligible veterans in the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 7. Comprehensive outpatient services, as well as access to secondary and tertiary care services, are also available to eligible veterans.
The Optometry Clinic at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center was established in 1978. The following year the clinic accepted its first resident in hospital-based optometry. The program was so successful that with the help of our affiliate, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO), a second position was created in 1980. The optometry clinic has experienced significant growth through the years, having grown from a clinic with a total of only three rooms, to a clinic which now contains seven exam rooms, two special procedures rooms, a preliminary testing area, staff office space, two health technician offices and a large waiting area. Our annual patient encounters currently average approximately 7500. This number of encounters affords each resident exposure to, and opportunities to interact with, quality patients. The Department of Veterans Affairs has also amended patient eligibility rules and its attitude toward delivering care, which now emphasizes preventive health care. These changes have been very beneficial for the optometry clinic in that it has provided opportunities for continued growth and increased the optometric education opportunities available at TVAMC.
The Tuscaloosa VAMC has 2 optometrists on staff. Optometrists provide primary eye care as well as manage chronic ocular diseases and ocular manifestations of systemic diseases. Each optometrist is a licensed practitioner, credentialed and privileged to practice full scope optometry, including the use of topical and oral medications.
The Tuscaloosa VAMC has a teaching program that trains fourth year optometry students from Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO). Currently, three students per quarter rotate through our program. Although our primary goal is to provide high quality eye care to our nation's veterans, our other emphasis is to provide a quality educational experience for our optometry residents and students. As the residency year progresses, residents who have demonstrated an established level of clinical competence are allowed to precept students under the guidance of the clinic staff. This affords additional opportunities for the resident's growth and educational experience.
Residents will perform routine eye examinations as well as be responsible for evaluating walk-in and emergency patients. Based on our patient demographics, residents will encounter a high percentage of patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, inflammatory eye disease, vascular occlusive disease and varied ocular manifestations of systemic diseases. Residents have an opportunity to rotate through external clinical sites including a private retinal specialist and a regional optometry/ophthalmology referral center. This affords them the opportunity to observe and be involved in the delivery of pre and post operative surgical care, as well as exposes them to more complicated cases and procedures.
The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center Optometric Residency in Hospital-Based/Primary Care Optometry is a one-year program which typically begins on July 1st and concludes June 30th of the following year. Adjustments may be required by Human Resources related to the start dates and end dates based on when pay periods and the July 4th Federal holiday falls. Regardless, the appointment is for one year and is reflected in and signed by the candidate in the Residency Acceptance Letter.
Medical Center Toll-Free Number 1-888-269-3045
Optometry Clinic Main Number 1-205-554-2847
Optometry Clinic Fax Number 1-205-554-4628
Tuscaloosa Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center
Optometry Clinic (679/123)
3701 East Loop Road
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404
Nathan A. Whitaker, OD, FAAO
Optometry Residency Program Supervisor
Tuscaloosa VAMC Optometry Clinic
3701 Loop Road East
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404
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