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Clinical Program

New England College of Optometry provides an in-depth pathway through clinical education that affords a set of experiences designed to prepare students for success in their future careers. Our optometrists-in-training grow their skills through hands-on experiences in a variety of settings, including comprehensive vision centers, hospitals, community health centers, private practices, and veterans medical centers.


Education Rooted in Clinical Experiences

At New England College of Optometry, early and diverse clinical experiences translate into patient care experiences throughout their time at NECO. From the start, our students are considered optometrists-in-training, conducting clinical observations and participating in vision screenings for young children at local elementary schools and HeadStart programs within the first few weeks. These hands-on experiences are supported through classroom discussions, practice labs, and mentoring by upperclassmen. Learn more about the clinical education department at New England College of Optometry.

Beginning in their second year and increasing in time throughout their third year, students begin to hone their skills throughout the NECO Clinical Network, receiving the opportunity to work in private practices, HMOs, hospitals, and multidisciplinary health centers. The clinical experience culminates with an entirely clinical fourth year where students may complete rotations available at more than 50 clinical practice site throughout New England, the United States, and even worldwide. Learn more about our final year Externship Program.

Clinical Education: Four-Year OD Program

Year 1

First year students participate in vision screenings of young children at local elementary schools and Head Start programs within weeks. They also conduct clinical observations of practicing optometrists.


Explore Clinical Year 1

Year 2

Second year students do two clinical rotations (1 per semester) and participate in patient care around 4-6 hours a week under the supervision of clinical preceptors at locations such as private practices, community health centers, hospitals, and multidisciplinary clinics.


Explore Clinical Year 2

Year 3

Third year students experience three different clinical rotations (1 per semester) in primary care optometry, primarily in community health based clinics. They provide direct patient care under the supervision of a clinical preceptor.


Explore Clinical Year 3

Year 4

Fourth year students cycle through 4 three-month externship clinical rotation placements, conducting full-time patient care under the guidance of clinical preceptors. Rotations include community health centers, VA hospitals, specialty care and electives.


Explore Clinical Year 4

Our Extensive Network

Throughout their time at the College, our students each have their own unique clinical experiences.  The NECO Clinical Network includes local, national, and international clinical sites for students to apply their skills as they become experienced doctors. In addition to NECO’s academic vision clinics (NECO Center for Eye Care) and clinical affiliates, the College maintains teaching and service affiliations with VA hospitals, US Public Health Service centers, major ophthalmic practices and other health facilities throughout New England, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and China. Learn more about our final year Externship Program.