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Clinical Program

New England College of Optometry provides an in-depth pathway through clinical education that affords a set of experiences designed to prepare students for success in their future careers. Our optometrists-in-training grow their skills through hands-on experiences in a variety of settings, including comprehensive vision centers, hospitals, community health centers, private practices, and veterans medical centers.

Education Rooted in Clinical Experiences

At New England College of Optometry, early and diverse clinical experiences translate into patient care experiences throughout their time at NECO. From the start, our students are considered optometrists-in-training, conducting clinical observations and participating in vision screenings for young children at local elementary schools and HeadStart programs within the first few weeks. These hands-on experiences are supported through classroom discussions, practice labs, and mentoring by upperclassmen. Learn more about the clinical education department at New England College of Optometry.

Beginning in their second year, students begin to practice their skills throughout the NECO Clinical Network, receiving the opportunity to work in private practices, HMOs, hospitals, corporate and multidisciplinary health centers. Students rotate through three different clinical rotations in their third year, followed by an entirely clinical fourth year. These final clinical rotations are available at more than 50 clinical practice site throughout New England, the United States, and even worldwide. 

Clinical Education: Four-Year OD Program

Year 1

First year students participate in vision screenings of young children at local elementary schools and Head Start programs within weeks. They also conduct clinical observations of practicing optometrists.

Explore Clinical Year 1

Year 2

Second year students participate in patient care under the supervision of clinical preceptors at locations such as private practices, community health centers, hospitals, corporate settings, and multidisciplinary clinics.

Explore Clinical Year 2

Year 3

Third year students experience three different clinical rotations in primary care optometry, primarily in community health based clinics. They provide direct patient care under the supervision of a clinical preceptor.

Explore Clinical Year 3

Year 4

Fourth year students cycle through four external clinical placements, conducting full-time patient care under the guidance of clinical preceptors. Rotations include community health centers, VA hospitals, specialty care and electives.

Explore Clinical Year 4

Our Extensive Network

The NECO Clinical Network includes local, national, and international clinical sites for students to practice their skills as they become experienced doctors. In addition to NECO’s academic vision clinics (NECO Center for Eye Care), clinical affiliates,  and partners, the College maintains teaching and service affiliations with VA hospitals, US Public Health Service centers, major ophthalmic practices and other health facilities throughout the country and in Canada and China. The fourth year of the Doctor of Optometry degree program is entirely clinical and provides students the opportunity to do four full-time clinical rotation assignments at more than 50 clinical practice sites throughout New England, the United States, China, England, and Canada. Learn more about our final year Externship Program.