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North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System

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Primary Care Optometry Residency

About the Program

The Optometry Residency Program at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center is a fully accredited one year post-graduate clinical teaching program designed to provide advanced training in primary optometric care, ocular disease diagnosis and management, specialty contact lens fitting, and low vision care.  Residents spend time at the main hospital as well as at another dedicated clinical space just down the road.  This Primary Eye Care Residency Program is a collaborative effort between the Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, the Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, and the University of Florida School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology.  Nova Southeastern provides administrative support, planning, and guidance in developing and monitoring the program; the VA provides hands-on teaching through a wide variety of clinical experiences; and the University of Florida provides educational opportunities from a renowned faculty, as well as visiting professors, throughout the year.  The merger of these three entities provides a unique and challenging program to students motivated to learn eye care beyond the foundation laid in optometry school.  Three residents are chosen annually.


The North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, in conjunction with the Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry and the University of Florida, Department of Ophthalmology, offers a one-year residency program in primary eye care.  The mission of the program is to provide qualified post-doctoral practitioners with an advanced educational experience that will enhance clinical skills in primary eye care and ocular disease.  Individuals completing the program will be able to deliver an advanced level of optometric care in a clinical setting, practice in co-management and multidisciplinary practices, and/or serve as clinical instructors at optometry schools.

Eligibility/Application Requirements

Candidates must apply to the program through the Optometry Resident Matching Service (ORMatch) utilized by all VA optometry residency programs.  Applications to ORMatch must be completed by February 1st for consideration. 

The following must be received by the program director for consideration as a residency applicant:
1.  Name, address, and phone number
2.  Curriculum vitae
3.  Official transcripts of NBEO scores (received through the ORMatch Service)
4.  Official transcripts of optometric education
5.  Minimum of three letters of recommendation
6.  Letter of intent: statement from the applicant regarding his or her desire to complete this particular residency program.

Interviews will be requested of specific candidates based upon the quality of their credentials and application information.

All serious applicants will be directly informed that, if selected, their credentials will be verified as required by local VA Medical Center policy.  Residents are not granted medical staff membership status but may practice independently under an expanding scope of practice after state licensure is granted and competency is demonstrated. 

The residency program coordinator will rank applicants in order of merit based on the applicant’s qualifications as well as personal and professional characteristics.  The coordinator will seek input from other faculty members of the VA Optometry Service.  The list will be submitted to the matching service.  At the same time, candidates will submit an independent list of their preferred programs.  ORMatch will notify both the candidates and programs of the match results.  In the event a match does not occur for the Gainesville program, the program coordinator will pursue interested applicants from the remaining unmatched pool or any other qualified candidates.

Resident Schedule

The duration of the program is 12 months beginning on the first weekday in July and ending on the last weekday of the following June.  The resident is expected to work full time, Monday through Friday for the entirety of the clinic work day (typically 7:30 am- 4:00 pm or until all patients have been seen at the Off-site clinic, or 8:00 am - 4:30 pm or until all patients have been seen at the Hospital/Bed Tower clinic.).  The resident does not have “on call” responsibility.

Resident Benefits

The annual residency stipend is determined by VHA headquarters Office of Academic Affiliations. The stipend for 2014-2015 is $31,965. The annual stipend is not contingent upon the resident’s productivity.

Health insurance coverage is available to the resident at a cost. The resident accrues 4 hours per biweekly pay period of annual (vacation) leave and sick leave in addition to 10 paid holidays.

Authorized absence (i.e. leave with pay) is granted for the resident to attend one educational meeting outside the normal educational opportunities offered by the program, more if the resident is presenting a lecture or poster at the second meeting.  Liability protection is provided to all residents under the Federal Tort Claims Act. This coverage is valid only while the resident is practicing at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System if the resident has a valid appointment to the staff as a paid employee. Any resident practicing outside the VA (moonlighting) is responsible for obtaining their own liability coverage for that practice.

Requirements for Residency Completion/Awarding of Certificate

The residents will each be awarded a Certification of Completion from Nova Southeastern upon successful completion of the program.  Satisfactory completion of the residency requires all of the following to be met:

  • Arrive on time for and attend all scheduled clinics, lectures, and seminars
  • Participation and completion of all assigned clinical duties
  • Satisfactory preparation and delivery of all scholarly assignments
  • Preparation of a manuscript of publishable quality
  • Performance of all additional duties as assigned by the Residency Coordinator
  • Receipt of satisfactory evaluations from all faculty members

Clinical Practice Protocols

The resident may practice to the extent state law allows based on the state of licensure that is obtained.  We strongly recommend matched residents obtain licensure as soon as possible, and that the process is initiated before beginning residency training.   The resident is given an increasing level of clinical independence as the year progresses based on capability and performance as determined by periodic evaluations. The resident co-manages patients with both staff optometrists and ophthalmologists. Even the most experienced and skilled residents must still consult with staff for new patients, when initiating new medications, for certain advanced procedures and when requesting consultation outside Optometry section.

Timeline for 2018-19 Residency Year

Additional Optometry Residency Resources:

Nova Southeastern College of Optometry: *
Optometry Residency Match (ORMatch) *
United States Department of Veterans Affairs Optometry Internet Website
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry *
National Association of Veterans Affairs Optometrists (NAVAO) *
Armed Forces Optometric Society *

*Links may take you outside the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the non-VA linked web sites. The link will open a new window. 

For comments/questions about this site, please email:

Susannah Marcus, OD