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Clinical Education: Year 1

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At New England College of Optometry, your clinical experience begins during your first few weeks with clinical observations and vision screenings at area elementary schools.

I was attending a clinical observation as part of my first year curriculum. I was allowed to perform part of the entrance testing, and by doing so I found clinically significant data that would contribute to the case evaluation. I realized in that moment just how much I had learned and also the importance of my education as it will allow me to make a difference in the lives of my future patients.

Ashley Szalkowski, Class of 2018

This early immersion into clinical care allows students to:

  1. to apply clinical skills 
  2. to integrate academic knowledge with clinical experience 
  3. to learn communication techniques 

Your initial encounters are with toddlers, children, and young adults. Later on in the first year, you may have the opportunity to participate in screenings designed for older populations. You perform visual acuities, entrance testing, and refraction.

An integral part of your clinical education is learning to communicate effectively with patients. Although communication skills are taught in the seminar classes and assigned readings, you will be able to hone your own style of communication as you gain patient care experience starting with screenings in the first year. Additionally, the observation program will place you in different health settings to critically observe how communication techniques are utilized by practicing clinicians.

Clinical Education Coursework, Year One

(PC12120) Patient Care I,
(PC12125) Patient Care Ia
(PC12126) Patient Care Ib
Instructor of Record: Beth G. Harper, OD

  • Patient Care I is the first introduction to patient care as a student clinician. This course consists of vision screenings and clinical observations. The NECO vision screening is a limited testing of vision, consisting of eight separate examination procedures, tailored to the population being served. Students will perform screenings on toddlers, children, and young adults under the oversight of a preceptor. On each screening, students are evaluated by the preceptor on examination techniques, record keeping, attitude/professionalism, and maintenance of patient logs. 
  • The second part of this course focuses on proficiency in professional doctor-patient communications. Students learn communication techniques via lectures, readings, observations of health care professionals, and by application and practice during assigned screenings. The observation program places students in different health care settings to critically observe how communication techniques are utilized. 
  • These two clinical activities (screenings and observations) comprise the clinical course for the first year. Students in the Advanced Optometric Degree Program begin vision screenings and clinical observations during the spring of their initial year. 
  • For all of Patient Care I, clinical performance is graded as Pass, Remedial, or Fail based on meeting all of the requirements and on clinical performance at screenings. The requirements include fulfilling immunizations, CPR training, HIPAA training, and submitting clinical observation forms, log forms, and preceptor evaluations. Clinical performance is evaluated by screening preceptors after each screening assignment, as well as a final on-line grade submitted at the end the term.

As a first year student you will attend primary school vision screenings in the first few weeks. You will act as a student doctor to administer entrance testing and evaluate the patient under the supervision of a preceptor. This patient interaction early on in your education is a great way to integrate what you are learning in the classroom to real life situations.
Ashley Szalkowski, Class of 2018