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Prospective Site Directors Information

Thank you for considering our externship program. We take pride in having more than enough sites to meet our students' requirements. We welcome new site applications, but please note that we maintain a waiting list to be considered only after space becomes available due to the current sites' vacated space. Priority is given to primary eye care sites and those offering low-cost housing.

For application information, contact Dr. Alexandra M. Espejo

Externship Site Overview

Our externship program provides hands-on experience for fourth-year students in various optometric specialties. Externship sites focus on full-spectrum optometric care, with potential emphasis on specialty areas like binocular vision, contact lenses, ocular disease, and more.

  • Site Coordinator Role: Each site appoints a coordinator responsible for student education, ensuring a diverse clinical experience and adherence to educational standards.
  • College-Provided Curriculum: The College oversees the formal curriculum, documenting students' progress for academic credit.
Responsibilities and Expectations
  • Student Engagement: Students must abide by facility rules, attend clinical sessions, and conduct themselves professionally.
  • Financial Responsibilities: Students bear all commuting, housing, and living costs, though sites may offer housing or meals at a reduced cost.
Selection and Assignment
  • Student Eligibility: Only students in good academic standing can start externship training.
  • Site Selection Process: Students choose sites based on academic standing, clinical performance, and personal preferences. A team reviews assignments for appropriateness.
Evaluation Procedures
  • Mid-Rotation and Final Evaluations: Students receive evaluations assessing clinical skills and cognitive abilities.
  • Site Feedback: Students provide feedback on the externship site, contributing to the ongoing assessment of the program.
  • Site Schedule: Students adhere to the externship site's schedule, with exceptions for national boards and graduation activities. Vacations must be arranged in advance, and unexcused absences or other unprofessional behavior may result in student dismissal from the site with a resulting failing grade.

We appreciate your interest in shaping the future of optometry through our externship program. If you have further questions or would like to initiate the application process, please contact Dr. Alexandra M. Espejo.

Frequently Asked Questions

In the fourth year of their training, each student must participate in two externships. One focuses on ocular disease, while the other allows students to choose an area of study they prefer. Students rank their preferences based on their didactic GPA and clinical performance. Even students at the lower end of the class receive special consideration, and their externship assignments address specific educational needs. The selection process ends in November of the student's third year.

To apply as a new site, complete our application form. The Externship Committee, led by the Director of Externships, will evaluate your application based on several factors, including the site's educational offerings, facilities, patient base, and the qualifications of the site director.

  1. Completion of a post-graduate residency program in optometry OR have a clinical equivalent, which is determined on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Minimum 3 years of experience in clinical patient care, although a waiver is possible on a case-by-case basis if a more experienced eye care practitioner is available on-site full-time for consultative purposes. 
  3. No outstanding judgments regarding clinical care against the proposed site director.
  4. Satisfactory references from colleagues and supervisors.

We prioritize private practice and primary eye care facilities, with affordable housing options during rotations. We adapt to changing needs and encourage our graduates to explore opportunities in the western U.S. 

No, placement is not guaranteed. The program has more sites than students, and sites are not exclusive to the College of Optometry. Communication with other optometry schools is encouraged.

Popular sites actively engage students in education, offering strong didactic programs and independent clinical care components. Private practice sites and those attending the annual open house tend to be more sought after. Face-to-face interactions at events like the open house allow students to connect with potential site directors, making the site selection process more informed.

Each site must have a qualified director overseeing students' education. Regular, unbiased grading, attendance at events like the open house, and cooperation with the college on scheduling and exams are expected. A memorandum of affiliation is required, ensuring clear communication between the site and the college.

Resources for Optometry Instructors at NSU College of Optometry

Webinar Training

Periodically, NSU College of Optometry hosts webinars for externship instructors. Explore the "Why Clinical Teaching Matters" webinar presented in August 2020 through the following links:




Teaching Strategies Resources

Delve into valuable resources on the Role of the Preceptor, Preceptor Development, and Teaching Strategies:

  • Driving Lesson or Driving Test? Perspectives on Medical Education by Brand PLP, Jaarsma ADC, Vander Vleuten CPM. Learn more.
  • Teaching strategies and tips for success for preceptors by Lazarus J. Learn more.
  • Preceptor Development: Providing Effective Feedback by Wilkinson ST, Couldry R, Phillips H, Buck B. Learn more.

University of Central Florida Program

Explore the Advancing Clinical Teachers Program from the University of Central Florida, offering online modules including:

  • Designing and Creating a Positive Learning Experience
  • Giving Effective Feedback
  • Teaching Clinical Reasoning Skills
  • Narrative Evaluation
  • Teaching Evidence-Based Thinking
  • Diagnosing Your Learner
  • Tools for Teaching on the Fly
  • Teaching and Assessing Professionalism
  • Transforming Dysfunctional Teams
  • Direct Observation
  • Dealing with a Difficult Learning Situation

Clinical Practice Resources

Additional Library Resources

For a broader range of resources, including NSU College of Optometry clinical affiliates, visit NSU library services.

We appreciate your interest in our externship program. For more information or to begin the application process, please contact Dr. Alexandra M. Espejo, OD, FAAO., our Director of Externships.

Ready to Learn More?

Contact Us New Site Packet

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