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Four-Year OD Program Description

At New England College of Optometry, we believe strongly in providing experiences inside the classroom and clinical settings that build upon and complement one another. Throughout the four years, students move from a majority of time in classroom and labs to full immersion in their rotations. Throughout the journey, students develop a strong foundation that prepares them to provide care for patients in all kinds of settings with various ocular conditions.

Year 1  

Within your first weeks at New England College of Optometry, you begin screening children in our screenings and observations clinical program.  You also observe practitioners providing direct patient care. Your classroom work centers on anatomy, physiology, and other basic sciences, as well as vision and optics fundamentals,  public health and policy, and clinical reasoning. 

As a first year student, you can expect to attend laboratory sessions and small group seminar discussions in the mornings, as well as screenings and observations in morning sessions at area schools and pre-schools. Your afternoons will be spent in lectures. Your optometry courses will center on refraction and functional testing in the first year.

By the end of your first term, you will be able to independently perform a vision screening on a child. By the end of your first year at NECO, you will have learned to perform refractions, lensometry, and visual acuity tests and you will be able to perform some of the basic elements of a comprehensive, primary-care eye exam.

Year 2

As a second year student at NECO, your clinical assignments become more advanced: you become part of an eye care delivery team, acquire a deeper understanding of patient care, and learn how to effectively communicate with patients. The focus of your classroom work changes in your second year, too. Your courses cover advanced optics concepts, general medicine and pharmacology, and practice management. Your optometry courses center on ocular disease, refraction, and more advanced patient communication.

You can expect to attend laboratory sessions and small-group seminar discussions each afternoon. You will also be assigned to a clerkship for one afternoon a week at New England College of Optometry (NECO) Center for Eye Care or at an affiliated practice or health center in the NECO Clinical Network. All of your weekday mornings will be spent in lectures. By the end of your second year, you will be able to conduct a comprehensive primary-care eye exam, reach a diagnosis, and outline a patient care plan.

Year 3

In your third year, you provide direct patient care at area community health centers, in VA hospitals, and in private practices. Your classroom work shifts to advanced ocular disease, advanced diagnostic techniques, and the treatment of pediatric and low vision patients. In your third year, you’ll have the opportunity to take specialized elective seminars in the focus areas of community and world health, special populations, and advanced care and management. Your third year is all about preparing you for your final year.

You also spend more time in clinic and small discussions. You will be in a community health center, VA hospital, private practice, or NECO Center for Eye Care clinic for one to three days per week. By the end of your third year at NECO, you will be proficient in full-scope primary care optometry and contact lenses. You will also take the National Board of Examiner’s in Optometry’s part I exam, Applied Basic Science, a written exam covering basic science and pharmacology concepts.

Year 4

As a fourth year, you see different populations of patients within each rotation, providing you with a rich and challenging clinical experience. Our affiliated clinical rotation sites are located in over thirty states, three Canadian provinces, Spain, and in China. In your final year at NECO, you are truly a doctor in training. You complete four full time clinical rotations: a primary care, advanced care, and specialty care rotation, and an elective rotation.

Many students say the fourth year at New England College of Optometry is the most challenging and the most rewarding of all. It is a time of transition, as you finish your training at NECO and and take parts II and III of the National Board of Examiners exams. It is a time to apply for a license or residency, to prepare for graduation, and to begin your career as a skilled and successful optometrist.