Optometry Residency Staff, Hours and Resources - Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center
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Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center


Optometry Residency Staff, Hours and Resources


 Dr. Whitaker Nathan A. Whitaker, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Dr. Whitaker completed his residency training at TVAMC in 1995.  In July, 1996 he joined the optometry staff and assumed direct responsibilities over the ICO and UABSO student programs.  He served as the Residency Program Supervisor in June 2007 until July 2014.  Dr. Whitaker became Chief of Optometry Service at the Tuscaloosa VAMC in July 2014 and continues to serve in this capacity. Dr. Whitaker can be reached at Nathan.Whitaker@va.gov.

Dr. Schifanella

Lisa Land Schifanella, O.D., M.S.

Dr. Schifanella grew up in Birmingham and attended Faith Christian High School where she graduated as the valedictorian.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Montevallo where she graduated summa cum laude.  She went on to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO).  She received her Doctor of Optometry degree from UABSO and graduated cum laude.  Dr. Schifanella received a Masters in Vision Science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in December of 1994.  Following her education in Alabama, Dr. Schifanella completed a Residency in Ocular Disease at Triad Eye Medical Center and Cataract Institute affiliated with Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry (NSUOCO).  Dr. Schifanella joined the faculty of NSUOCO in 1996.  She served as Director of Residencies from 1997-2003.  In addition, she was course master for three courses: Systemic Therapy in Ocular Disease, Differential Diagnosis in Ocular Disease, and Advanced Clinical Methods.  Dr. Schifanella served as Chief of the Specialty Care Clinic (the laser and minor surgery clinic) from 1996-2000.  She was a tenured associate professor and a member of the NSU Graduate Faculty.  Dr. Schifanella joined the faculty of UABSO in March of 2004, where she served as the Director of Residency Programs from June 2006-May 2014.  She also served as coursemaster of the Injections and Minor Surgical Procedures course, as a member of the Clinical Evaluation of the Visual System course faculty, and in the Primary Care Clinics.  She is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Armed Forces Optometric Association, and is a sustaining member of the American Optometric Student Association.    Dr. Schifanella joined the Tuscaloosa VAMC in June 2014 where she currently serves as Staff Optometrist, Residency Supervisor, and Externship Supervisor.   Dr. Schifanella can be reached at Lisa.Schifanella@va.gov .



Ellen Prewitt

Ellen L. Prewitt, O.D.

Dr.  Prewitt grew up in Mobile, AL. and attended Spring Hill College, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree. She moved to Birmingham in 2013 to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO). Dr. Prewitt completed her residency training in ocular disease/ primary eye care at TVAMC in June 2018 and joined the optometry staff following completion. She is a member of the American Optometric Association, National Association of Veterans Affairs Optometrists, and the Beta Sigma Kappa Honor Society. Dr. Prewitt can be reached at Ellen.Prewitt@va.gov .





Normal Medical Center clinic hours are from 8:00am to 4:30pm 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 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.



The resident has access to current educational and informational resources.  The
following educational resources are available to each resident:

  • Access to the VHA National Desktop Library internet library at the desktop in every exam room
  • Access to ophthalmology and optometry journal articles and texts online through the online holdings and subscriptions of the affiliate’s library – UAB Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
  • On-site ophthalmic reference texts
  • Physical access to Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences at the affiliate (UABSO)

Since 2010, the TVAMC Education Department has been encouraging staff to use online databases that have been purchased by Veterans Affairs Central Office headquarters and the VISN 7.  This has increased the number of educational resources (journals and textbooks) that are available to staff and residents.  As an example, through the one of our databases, the following online materials are available:

• Review of Cornea and Contact Lens   (2006 to present)
• Review of Optometry   (2004 to present)
• Optometry and Vision Science  (1989 to present)
• Ophthalmology    (1998 to present)
• American Journal of Ophthalmology (2004 to present)
• Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology (2005 to present)
• Journal of Glaucoma   (1992 to present)
• Journal of Neuro-ophthalmology  (1994 to present)
• Survey of Ophthalmology   (1975 to 1994)

Residents may access the VHA National Desktop Library from their exam rooms.  The VHA National Desktop library (https://www.va.gov/library/) is an online medical library available to staff VA-wide that provides full-text access to clinical textbooks, journals, and databases.  Some of the resources in the Desktop Library will link to sites that are on the VA intranet and must be accessed through the VA network.  The extensive holdings in the VA National Desktop Library include over more than 50 databases. 


The VA Talent Management System (TMS) is the online VA education system.  The VA requires certain training sessions for residents to complete such as HIPAA, infection control, and environmental safety.  The residents have access to the entire library of trainings on TMS, including many medical, leadership, billing, and eye-related trainings.  The resident may search for a desired topic and assign the desired training to him - or herself. 

The resident’s examination room/office has space for the resident’s small personal library, and it contains a computer with internet, VHA National Desktop Library access, TMS access, and patient data (electronic health record) access.  Residents are welcome to use the small collection of reference books in the faculty office.  Other resources are available through the Lister Hill library associated with the affiliate UABSO.

Residents are advised by the Residency Director early in the Residency Program to complete the UAB process to become an unpaid volunteer in order to obtain library privileges through UAB. The Administrative Associate to the Residency Programs at UABSO and the Personnel Director at UABSO assist the residents through the process. Once a resident has become an unpaid volunteer, the resident is given the same library privileges as faculty at the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, located next door to the Henry B. Peters School of Optometry Building. This library is the largest biomedical library in Alabama, and occupies a space of approximately 90,000 square feet.  The optometry and vision science holdings are integrated into the health sciences library collection and are organized according to the National Library of Medicine classification scheme.  Currently, its collection contains electronic journals of more than 5000 titles for the health sciences; 104 of these are optometry and ophthalmology titles.  Students, residents, and faculty have access to over 300 databases and resources and 2,587 electronic books.  In total, the library’s print and media collection contains over 338,000 volumes in all formats, spanning seven centuries of knowledge with the rare collections of the Reynolds Historical Library and extending to the latest electronic journals and databases.  The library catalog, electronic journals, databases, etc. are accessible from and off-campus internet connected computer by the resident when he or she authenticates by entering his or her Blazer ID and password.  Librarians are available to assist the resident with databases and resources, literature searches, systematic reviews, grant preparation, and other research needs.  The School of Optometry is assigned a reference librarian to whom the residents may turn for help.  The Lister Hill Library web site is http://www.uab.edu/lister/.


Program Information





UAB School of
Optometry *


Optometric Residency Matching Service*

VA Optometry Service 

View Residency 

Contact Information

Lisa L. Schifanella, OD, MS
 Residency Supervisor
Tuscaloosa VAMC Optometry Clinic
3701 Loop Road East
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404
Phone: (205) 554-2847
Fax:     (205) 554-4628


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