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Clinical Education: Year 4

The final year is made up of four external rotations, allowing you to participate in full time patient care throughout the week. During these final year rotations, you take responsibility for the clinical care of patients from start to finish, including helping to coordinate follow up care, write referral letters, and provide patient education under the supervision of clinical preceptors.

You will rotate through four types of clinical assignments:

  • Community Health Center
  • VA Hospital
  • Specialty Care (vision therapy, pediatrics, specialty contact lens, low vision)
  • Elective (private optometry practices, additional VA opportunities, hospital based clinics, ophthalmology practices)

New England College of Optometry offers final year students a vast number of sites that are diverse in patient base and location. Although most students will complete part of the final year in the Boston area, opportunities for national and international travel are also provided.

After completing four rotations, I think NECO has one of the best clinical programs. We have the ability to work the entire USA, Canada, Alaska, and even China.

Surbhi Bansal, OD, Class of 2012

During my special populations rotation, I had an incredible experience working on the mobile clinic while providing ocular health examinations to children throughout the surrounding areas of Boston. This clinic site helped me to communicate more directly with children and to become a better clinician. It also allowed me to help populations that are in need of primary ocular care.


Tim Bossie, OD'12, Assistant Professor of Clinical Optometry, Director of Eye Care Services, Lynn Community Health Center

Learn more about our fourth year externship program.

Read about our students' clinical experiences on our student blog. 

Clinical Education Coursework, Year Four Rotations

Four rotations during the final year complete the clinical requirements, with mandatory assignments in Primary Care, Advanced Care and Specialty Care. Students choose an additional assignment in one of the mandatory categories or from a list of elective sites. The College currently has affiliated clinical sites located in over thirty states, Canadian provinces, and China. Student assignments are based on a variety of factors, including student choices and program needs.

The Office of Clinical Education monitors the quality and quantity of patient encounters for each student. All students must satisfy a minimum number of contact lens patient encounters during the course of their final-year assignments. Some students may be assigned to contact-lens-specific sites in order to assure a broad clinical experience. Clinical preceptors evaluate students twice per quarter with the expectation that all levels of performance will progressively increase throughout the year.

(ECP4916) Primary Care Rotation Summer Term
(ECP4917) Primary Care Rotation Fall Term
(ECP4918) Primary Care Rotation Winter Term
(ECP4919) Primary Care Rotation Spring Term
Instructor of Record: Erik Weissberg, OD, FAAO
Clinical sites that provide comprehensive eye care services for patients of all ages are categorized as Primary Care sites. Typically, these sites are community health centers, community clinics, or private optometric practices.

(ECP4921) Advanced Care Rotation Summer Term
(ECP4922) Advanced Care Rotation Fall Term
(ECP4923) Advanced Care Rotation Winter Term
(ECP4924) Advanced Care Rotation Spring Term
Instructor of Record: Erik Weissberg, OD, FAAO
Clinical sites that provide comprehensive eye care services in hospitals or surgical centers and have associated medical staff are categorized as Advanced Care sites. These include Veterans Affairs hospitals, surgical centers, and tertiary care centers.

(ACC4961) Specialty Care Rotation Summer Term
(ACC4962) Specialty Care Rotation Fall Term
(ACC4963) Specialty Care Rotation Winter Term
(ACC4964) Specialty Care Rotation Spring Term
Instructor of Record: Erik Weissberg, OD, FAAO
Clinical sites that provide professional specialty care are categorized as Specialty Care clinics. These include clinics specializing in visual therapy/binocular vision, contact lenses, pediatrics, geriatrics, patients with disabilities, or low vision. Additionally, the College’s Special Populations rotation provides training in all of these specialty areas.