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Clinical Program

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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 hospitals, community health centers, private practices, and mobile eye clinics.

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. View 2014-2015 Final Year Rotations by State.

Clinical Education Four-year OD program
First Year Students conduct clinical observations of optometrists and participate in vision screenings at local elementary schools and Head Start programs.
Second Year Students participate in patient care under the supervision of clinical precepters at locations in the Greater Boston area such as private practices, community health centers, hospitals, corporate settings, and multidisciplinary clinics.
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.
Fourth Year Students take part in four external rotations, taking full responsibility for patients under the supervision of clinical preceptors. Rotations include a community health center, a VA hospital, specialty care (vision therapy, pediatrics, specialty contact lenses, low vision) and an elective (private optometry practices, additional VA opportunities, hospital based clinics, or ophthalmology practices).

Our External Affiliations

In addition to NECO’s vision clinics, 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.


Explore Clinical Education at NECO