two students looking at computer screen in clinical training center

Clinical Training

Because it’s the most important decision of your life, NECO has created a unique clinical training program designed to help you prepare for a lifelong, fulfilling career in optometry.

Few schools provide the breadth and depth of clinical experiences you’ll find at NECO.

As a student, you’ll experience a multidisciplinary model where you’ll be a part of the patient’s healthcare team, collaborating with primary care doctors, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, and other providers. It’s a model still rare among optometry schools. Yet one NECO believes in so strongly that it has continued to invest in the curricular and clinical model that makes it possible.

The NECO Clinical Experience

We believe that for students to become great clinicians, they have to understand the communities they’re working in.

student examines eye through a microscope

When and How You'll Train

Within a month of your first year, you will have the chance to conduct clinical observations with optometrists and participate in vision screenings in schools. Each aspect of your clinical training provides experience with different technologies, medical records, practice models, and eye conditions.

student looks at faculty while sitting at a computer

Where You’ll Train

From learning vital skills in our Clinical Training Center to rotations in community health centers, our program is designed to prepare you to succeed in real-world eye care settings. NECO’s pioneered its community-based clinical training model and remains a national role model in clinical education.

NECO's Community-based Model

NECO created its community-based clinical training model in which students train in community health centers (CHCs), its own comprehensive eye centers, VA health centers, and other eye clinics based around New England. As the first optometry school to conceive and create such a clinical training model, NECO has influenced thousands of optometrists and optometry itself.

student examines patient's eyes with phoropter

  • This community-based model fosters a focus on the whole patient’s well-being, rather than just the eyes. The exposure to multidisciplinary care emphasizes the role of the optometrist in a patient’s care team.
  • NECO’s health center collaborations help students to become proficient not just in clinical skills, but in the critical thinking that is vital to competent patient management in any type of clinical setting they choose in any part of the world.
  • Students embark on their optometric careers knowing what it’s like to be part of the community and to provide vital eye care services to its members.
  • You’ll be able to learn firsthand critical skills in diversity, social determinants of health, and cultural humility and competence.
  • The model provides exposure to a complex array of patients that help students develop their diagnostic and treatment decision-making skills, and also requires them to interact with providers in other fields – from neurology to cardiology to psychiatry.
  • NECO clinics in CHCs enhance access to vital eye care services for thousands of patients every year – at lower cost and closer to where they live and work.
  • We have seen many students change their career aspirations toward multidisciplinary, medical-based optometry or even decide to practice at community health centers.

NECO Knows Clinical Education

Comprehensive, multidisciplinary, community-based. And it all leads to you becoming a compassionate, competent doctor of optometry. That’s the NECO experience.

  • 1st

    month at NECO

    Students start hands-on training with vision screenings at schools.

  • ~2,000

    Number of patients

    you’ll see during your 4 years of clinical experience.

  • #1

    First optometry school

    Created the community-based clinical training model.

Student wearing a white lab coat, sitting in eye exam room.
Voices of NECO

A Series of Unique Experiences


Rather than rotating students through one single clinic affiliated with the school, NECO partners with a vast network of clinics and hospitals and each clinical site requires students to quickly adapt to a new location, new protocols, and new preceptors, so we are now better prepared for wherever we end up after graduating.

  • Class Year 2021
  • Hometown Auburn, Alabama