The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center Optometry Residency
in Ocular Disease
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. 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/health technician office, staff office space, a breakroom , and a large waiting area. Our annual patient encounters currently average approximately 7500. This number of encounters affords each resident sufficient quality and quantity of patient encounters. 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 3 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 the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO) and from the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO). Currently, three to four 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. The external rotations afford them the opportunity to observe more complicated cases and procedures.
The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center Optometric Residency in Ocular Disease 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 the Residency Acceptance Letter signed by the accepted candidate