Residency in Primary Eye Care/Vision Therapy and Low Vision Rehabilitation

Northport VA Medical Center, Northport, NY

Northport VA Medical Center Optometry Service (123)
79 Middleville Rd
Northport, NY  11768

Program Supervisor
Michael McGovern, OD
Phone:  (631) 261-4400 ext. 2136
Fax (631) 266-6056

Additional Faculty
Harvey Estren,OD
Lynn Finnegan, OD
Michael Fischer, OD
Gwen Gnadt, OD
Joseph Hallak, OD
Bradley Meltzer, OD
Marina Meyerowitz, OD
Catherine Scandiffio, OD
Sonia Valle, OD
Brendal Waiss, OD
Keith Dworkin, OD

The residency program at Northport VAMC is designed to provide the graduate optometrist with an excellent training experience through direct clinical care and extensive didactic and scholarly activities. The clinical component of the residency program involves direct patient care and rotations through various clinics throughout the hospital. 

There are two main components of the program:  rehabilitation and hospital-based primary eyecare. The rehabilitative orthoptics component consists of the diagnosis and treatment of visual problems secondary to aging, stroke, TBI and a variety of systemic/ocular conditions, in the construct of a multidisciplinary health team model.  Residents also provide care in the hospital’s Center of Balance, a unique multidisciplinary program in which patients with vestibular and balance problems are evaluated and treated by Optometry, Audiology, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services. The low vision rehabilitation components consist of diagnostic exams and treatment of patients with low vision/legal blindness in both an outpatient setting and through our comprehensive VICTORS Program (low vision, rehabilitation, social work, etc.). 

As this is a hospital-based program, the opportunity to interact with medical, social service, nursing and other specialized care practitioners at the hospital is available. The emphasis of the primary eyecare component is the involvement of the residents in the Primary Health Care model and will emphasize the optometrist as the “Primary Eyecare Provider”. The residents will be exposed to clinical experiences in the diagnosis and treatment of refractive and binocular conditions, ocular pathology and the ocular consequences of systemic disease and medications. The didactic and scholarly activities component of the program includes morning lectures by staff, journal club, various lecturing responsibilities, attending professional meetings and participation in the comprehensive educational program sponsored by our affiliate.

Program Length

12 months

Start Date

July 1





Hours Per Week

40 (Plus On-call: 1-2 weeks/month)


Fully Accredited by ACOE

Application Deadline

February 15



Educational Responsibilities
The resident will follow a curriculum that includes lectures and clinical care of patients within primary care, ocular disease, vision therapy, head trauma, vestibular and low vision clinics.  Residents must also fulfill all of the educational requirements of the SUNY Friday Program.

Teaching Responsibilities
The resident will present lectures within the Optometry Service, as well as to other practitioners, staff and patient groups within the hospital.  The resident will have the opportunity to partake in the teaching of fourth-year externs.

Research Responsibilities
The resident is required to complete a minor presentation, major presentation and a paper of publishable quality.

Eligible to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance.  The resident’s portion of the health and life insurance premium depends on the plan and coverage selected.  Residents earn 13 days sick leave and 13 days annual leave per year.  Low rent dormitory housing is available.

Mission Goals and Objectives

Mission Statement

The residency in Primary Care/Vision Therapy and Low Vision Rehabilitation seeks to attract the best qualified optometry graduates who have demonstrated an interest in rehabilitative modalities, as well as advanced primary care in an interdisciplinary team setting.  The resident will be provided with advanced clinical training in low vision and rehabilitative orthoptics, including evaluation and management of patients with sensorimotor deficits, visual consequences of head trauma and vestibular disorders.  In addition, the resident will provide beyond entry level patient care in the diagnosis, treatment and management of ocular diseases.  Residents will be involved in multidisciplinary patient care in a VA Medical Center setting.  Individuals who complete the program are expected to be able to deliver a high level of clinical care in these areas.

GOAL #1    To attract a large, diversified and well-qualified applicant pool.


1. To inform fourth-year optometric students in each college of optometry in the United States about the program.

2. To advertise the program in at least one optometric publication each year.

GOAL #2  To select the best-qualified candidates from the pool of applicants.


1. To identify the candidates best suited for the program, every candidate must go through an application/interview process.

2. Every candidate who is in the applicant pool must participate in ORMatch.

GOAL #3  To provide faculty and support staff commensurate with the needs of the program.


1. To provide adequate clinical faculty and clinical support staff for the program.

2. To provide secretarial support services for the program.

GOAL #4    To provide facilities and equipment commensurate with the needs of the program.


1. An office for the residents’ use should be provided.

2. A computer for the residents’ use should be provided.

3. The clinical equipment available to the program must be state-of-the-art.

4. Media resources for the preparation of papers and presentations will be available.

GOAL #5       To insure that the resident has an adequate number of patient encounters in the    primary care clinic and in each specialty clinic, there must be an appropriate    patient base for the program.

1. Each resident must examine a minimum of 750 Primary Care patients (separate encounters). This is to include examination and management of patients in our primary care, glaucoma and Res Special (ocular disease) clinics.  

2. Each resident must receive training in Rehabilitative Optometry, which includes the following number of minimum patient encounters:

GOAL #6 To insure adequate exposure to the diagnosis and management of ocular disease    and the ocular manifestations of systemic disease.


1. Each resident will meet the following minimum number of patient encounters  with respect to each listed ocular pathology:
a. Diabetic retinopathy   50 patients
b. Hypertensive retinopathy   50 patients
c. Glaucoma suspect    75 patients
d. Glaucoma     100 patients
e. Cataract      100 patients
f. Macular degeneration   75 patient
g. Anterior segment pathology  100 patients
  (blepharitis, dry eyes, corneal
  dystrophies, conjunctivitis, corneal
  ulcers, uveitis, etc.)
h. Posterior segment pathology  75 patients
(optic nerve disorders, vascular occlusions, systemic medications side-effects, retinal holes, lattice degeneration, etc.)

GOAL #7 A post-graduate seminar program on topics related to primary care optometry,    ocular disease and rehabilitative optometry is provided.


1. Each resident will attend seminars for at least three hours per week for 36 weeks of the year at Northport VAMC.

2. Each resident will participate in the SUNY Friday Program and abide by the requirements of this program.

3. At least four seminars by guest lecturers or eye care product representatives should be provided each year on topics appropriate to the program.

GOAL #8  To develop or enhance the residents’ didactic presentation skills.


1. Each resident will attend a course on verbal presentation skills.

2. Each resident will present two presentations of approved topics, one of which will be for 50 minutes and one for 20 minutes.

3. Each resident will develop and present two clinical cases during the year.

GOAL #9   To develop the residents’ intra and inter-professional communication abilities and    skills.


1. Each resident will attend at least two days of approved professional meetings.

2. Each resident will perform at least one presentation to a professional group outside of optometry.
3. Each resident will produce at least one paper suitable for publication.

GOAL #10  To provide the resident with training in hospital based optometry as preparation    for possible future employment in a health care center.


1. Residents will have access to each patient’s full medical record, including all progress notes, labs and imaging studies, to enable them to care for the patient as part of the healthcare team.

2. Residents will have access to laboratory and imaging studies.

3. Residents will have access to other health care providers for on-site consultation and referral.
4. Each resident will do observations in 5 non-optometry clinics (such as primary care, radiology, physical therapy, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), The Laser Center (TLC), etc.).

GOAL #11    

Graduates of the program are expected to practice at a level commensurate with their advanced training in primary care and rehabilitative optometry, as reflected by their mode of practice.


1. At the one year anniversary date of completing the residency program, former residents will be surveyed as to their mode of practice.  This survey will determine the percentage of those completing the residency program who have worked in a clinical, educational, research, or administrative setting within one year of residency completion.

Northport VA Curriculum