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Externship Program

The final year in the four-year and accelerated OD programs is comprised of four externship clinical rotations that complete the clinical education experience. During each clinical rotation assignment, students participate in full-time patient care under the guidance of a clinical preceptor, assuming responsibility for the eye exam from start to finish.


An Education Anchored in Comprehensive Clinical Training

The goal for the externships is to help our optometry students develop into competent, clinically proficient, and caring optometrists who are capable of practicing independently as well as with other providers in multi-disciplinary health care settings.  The selection process allows students to list their preferences for specific sites, locations, and specialties. Throughout the final year, they complete four clinical rotations, conducting full-time patient care under the guidance of NECO Clinical Faculty and Affiliated NECO faculty at our partner sites. The clinical rotations can be fulfilled in local, national, or international locations in the NECO Clinical Network.

Externship Clinical Rotations

Fourth year externships in the NECO Clinical Network are available locally in the Boston area, nationally in over thirty US states, and around the world in China, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  Students typically rotate through four types of clinical assignments: Community Health Center, Ocular Disease, Specialty Care, and Electives. 

NECO Externship Opportunities

Community Health Centers

Locations: Greater Boston Area and Holyoke, MA

Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Locations: California (Fresno), Connecticut (Newington, West Haven), Maine (Togus), Massachusetts (Bedford, Brockton, Jamaica Plain, Lowell, West Roxbury, and Worcester), New Hampshire (Manchester) New York (Hudson Valley), Oregon (Portland), Rhode Island (Providence), Vermont (White River Junction), and Washington (Vancouver)

Specialty Care 

  • NECO Special Populations Rotation (multiple locations in the Greater Boston area including: Boston Medical Center, Joslin Diabetes Center, Perkins School for the Blind, Tufts New England Medical Center, and many others)
  • Vision Therapy (central and southern CT, western MA)
  • Pediatrics (Miami, Virginia, China)
  • Specialty Contact Lens (Atlanta, western MA, Miami, St Louis, southern NH, eastern PA, central NJ) or low vision (western NY, southern CA, southern CT)

Electives: 

  • Academic Medical Centers (China, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, United Kingdom)
  • Army Health Clinic (Virginia)
  • Canadian Eye Clinics (Ontario, Canada)
  • Additional Community Health Centers (California, Minnesota)
  • Indian Health Services (Alaska, New Mexico)
  • MD/OD Group Practices involving Cornea, Cataract, Retina, Glaucoma and Refractive Surgeries (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey)
  • Naval Health Clinics (Hawaii, Rhode Island, Virginia)
  • Private Optometry Practices (California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia)
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington)